The Kenyan government said Tuesday it has resorted to science to help improve its national forest cover.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko said the country is embracing research, education and training in the forest sector to increase forest cover from 6.9 percent to 10 percent by 2030.
“We are now relying on research to provide appropriate technology, information and knowledge and necessary guidelines to afforestation and management,” Tobiko told delegates attending the Kenya Forestry Research Institute’s 5th scientific conference in Nairobi.
Tobiko noted that proven scientific information is vital to this endeavor, given that forestry plays a crucial role in socio-economic well-being, infrastructural development, and anchoring health and food security.
“Much more is still needed specifically in the management and conservation and allied natural resources to achieve a forest cover since forests are vital in carbon sequestration thus help in mitigating climate change,” Tobiko said.
He commended Kenya Forestry Research Institute for sharing research information and findings with the Sahel and the Horn of Africa states.
Such initiatives, he said, has helped reduce desertification and restore vital ecosystem functions in the African landscape.
Tobiko challenged forest scientists who have specialized skills, knowledge and expertise on tree-based enterprises to help uplift community livelihoods and environmental conservation.
“The government will mobilize the necessary resources needed by scientists to facilitate research programs that improve economic performance by using natural resources more sustainably, while reducing their environmental impact,” he said.
Tobiko blamed illegal logging, encroachment for farming and infrastructural development for the degradation of forests in the country, adding that the illegal activities have created conflicts and threaten the environmental resilience and sustainability of economic and social services.
He warned that if the practices continue, the country is going to experience catastrophic deforestation, soil erosion, flooding, pollution, desertification, loss of biodiversity, water shortage and reduced water quality in the near future.
Delegates at the conference are to deliberate on the contribution of forestry research to sustainable development, inclusion of stakeholders at the grassroots level in research and forest management, value chains and policy issues.