Many countries have embraced climate action in their own unique ways, inspiring nations and communities across the globe. Kenya is one nation making headlines this week for its new, surprise ‘Tree Planting Day’ public holiday, which the Kenyan government announced as part of its mission to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.
“The government has declared a special holiday on Monday 13 November 2023, during which the public across the country shall be expected to plant trees as a patriotic contribution to the national efforts to save our country from the devastating effects of climate change,” Kenya’s interior minister, Kithure Kindiki announced via social media.
Each Kenyan is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, while the government makes available about 150 million seedlings in public nurseries. Kenyans can collect free seedlings at forest agency centres for planting in designated public areas, while also being encouraged to buy at least two seedlings to plant on their own land.
The government has set aside more than £65 million this financial year as part of its effort to increase its forest cover from around 7% to more than 10%. Kenya currently has one of the lowest forest cover percentages compared to the global average of 30%, as a combined consequence of logging, charcoal burning, and illegal settlements.
The Horn of Africa, including Kenya, has been experiencing the impacts of climate change severely through extreme droughts, where rains have failed for five seasons in a row. It’s said to be the worse drought the region has suffered in over 40 years.
King Charles III visited Kenya last week — his first visit to an African country or Commonwealth nation since ascending the throne — and praised Kenya’s President William Ruto for his ecosystem restoration programme. Queen Camilla joined him on the four-day trip.
What makes tree planting initiatives successful?
While tree planting is a popular initiative particularly among companies and politicians, studies show that growing trees in appropriate places, and nurturing seedlings so that they mature into grown trees needs to be of greater focus.
Trees that are planted near communities where those communities can be involved in the entire life-cycle of tree growing, and ongoing care and management, has been found to be a factor in the success of tree planting initiatives. That vital local environmental knowledge, and deeper understanding of the soil conditions and most suitable type of seedlings, also plays a key role.
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