Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kenya to plant 7.6 billion trees to check deforestation

Helen Nyambura-Mwaura in Reuters: Kenya said on Wednesday it would plant 7.6 billion trees over the next 20 years to redress decades of chopping down forest cover, the effect of which is now being felt in acute water and power shortages. Just 3 percent of land in the agriculture-based east African economy is covered by forests that are protected by the authorities, compared with a government target of 10 percent.

"We will have to plant 4.1 million hectares in order to make a percentage that is internationally acceptable," Environment Minister John Michuki told reporters. "You are talking about 7.6 billion trees," he said. "In my estimation, it is going to cost us $20 billion over 20 years."

That amount is nearly twice the government's annual spending, which will be about $11 billion in fiscal 2009/10. … The impact of forest destruction is being felt by Kenyans, with rivers drying up and hydro-electric power generation, farm production and tourism all suffering as a result. … Kenya's biggest forest, the Mau, has lost a quarter of its 400,000 hectares in recent years to unchecked human settlement, illegal logging and the burning of charcoal....

Kenyan forest with lichens, shot by Mehmet Karatay, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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