On Friday, March 24, 2023 – Hundreds of people on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 attended this year’s International Forests Day celebrations held at the Mutitu Girls Secondary School in Mutitu District of Kitui County.

The County Environment, Forestry, Climate Change, Energy and Natural Resources Minster Richard Mwendandu was the chief guest where he was representing Governor Julius Makau Malombe at the function.

Forests and health was the theme of this year’s event. The event had been organized by the Kitui County Environment, Forestry, Climate Change, Energy and Natural Resources Minstry in partnership with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Caritas Kitui, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kitui Energy Centre, Anglican Development Services (ADS) Eastern, Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), Kenya’s Agriculture Ministry, Water Resources Authority (WRA), Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) and National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

Some 1,000 tree seedlings were planted in the learning institution to mark the day. The school has about 29 acres of land. Governor Malombe’s speech was read by Minister Richard Mwendandu.

The governor said: “I am very pleased to be with you here today as we commemorate the International Forests Day whose theme is “Forests and Health.” “The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012.

The day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests and ecosystems on earth,” Malombe said. On each International Day of Forests, the countries, governments and communities are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving the sensitisation and awareness of creation on forests and trees.

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While the event is being commemorated nationally at Kereita Forests in Kiambu County, us we chose to commemorate the event here at the Saint Mary’s Girls Secondary School in Mutitu District in Kitui County.

This theme of forests and health reminds us on how human beings health is highly dependent on trees and forests,” the Kitui County Governor said. Malombe said since time in memorial the man has depended on forests for the source of herbal medicine and even in modern life.

“Most of the human medicine are manufactured from the trees and forests,” he said.

Kitui County is well endowed with a variety of natural resources which include forests, hills, minerals and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar among others, he went on.

“These resources need to be well conserved and managed for the prosperity of the people of Kitui County and nationally at large.

Tree growing and forest conservation aimed to increase both tree and forest cover in the county is one of the strategic objectives of the Kitui County government as is outlined both in my manifesto-the Kitui Promise and also in the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), he also said.

The governor said they in the county are targeting to attain some 30 per cent forest cover in the county by 2032 according to the presidential directive aimed at ensuring at least 15 billion tree seedlings are grown in Kenya.

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“We the Kitui County have been awarded two trophies by both the Kenya Forest Service and NETFUND because of this initiative,” Governor Malombe said.

And he also said they the Kitui County shall be working with partners to initiate processing and value addition of their indigenous trees and forest products such as the Adansonia digitata (baobab), Tamarindus indica and Balanites aegyptiaca among others.

“The fruits from these indigenous trees are very rich in vitamin C and rare minerals are a good supplement as an important source of food,” Malombe said.

“Again working with the Kenya Forest Service we have developed and signed the Kitui County forestry devolved functions implementation plans (TIPs),” he added.

A total of 21 functions have been transferred from the Kenya Forest Service to the county governments in Kenya and tree growing and forest conservation is one of these devolved functions, the governor said.

“Kitui County is one of the Kenya’s five that initiated and piloting the climate change fund mechanism between 2013 and 2017. The other counties are Garissa, Isiolo. Wajir and Makueni,” the governor said.

“My government has committed to be allocating at least some 1.5 per cent of the annual county development in order to match donor funding to support community resilience livelihoods projects which include tree growing and forest conservation, water harvesting technologies and climate smart agriculture technologies among others,” Malombe added.

Thank you very much, he said. The minister addressed the function after having read the governor’s speech. The minister said the people live because there are trees. “Today we are planting trees and we are talking about them,” Richard Mwendandu said. He said they in Kitui County are using their enforcers to deal with charcoal burning in the county.

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The charcoal burning and sand harvesting are outlawed in Kitui County. The minister decried the rate at which the power-saw users had destroyed forests and trees in Kitui County.

And he announced that the county government is planning to deal with the power-saw usage there for the good of the forests and trees and the general environment.

Mwendandu talked about the forest fires that he said are caused by arsonists, farmers, the lightning, beekeepers and smokers.

The minister was accompanied by the County Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Chief Officer David Soi Masai, the County Environment, Climate Change, Resilience and Mitigation Advisor, Dr. Grace Mutua, the County Environment Director Benjamin Musili Mukulo and the County Environment and Climate Change Deputy Director Dominic Mutisya Mumbu among other officials from his office.

And KEFRI official Bernard Kimani Kigwa who also addressed the occasion, said they the KEFRI are doing research on various tree species in Kenya.

He highly talked about the indigenous trees including the Adansonia digitata (baobab), Melia volkensii, Osyris lanceolata, Terminalia brownie and Dalbergia melanoxylon. And on his part, the Kitui County Deputy Conservator Stanley M. Marioko said the tree is a very important ingredient for human life.

The Chief Officer David Soi Masai and the area (Mutitu) Assembly Ward Member Aron Kilonzi also addressed the event among others.