I AM PLANTING TREES IN MT. KENYA FOREST, NOT FARMING – SAYS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY

By Titus Murithi

Kenya’s Principal Secretary Minister of Sports, Culture and Arts, Ambassador Peter Kirimi Kaberia has denied allegations that he has grabbed one hundred acres of land in the Karuri area in Timau for farming purposes, as was reported recently while he was out of the country.

PS Kaberia speaks to journalists about his plans to reforest the Mount Kenya region

Recently while talking to a group of journalists at the 100 acre piece of land he was alleged to have grabbed, Kaberia said contrary to the rumours, he was instead planting trees with help of the local community members.

Kaberia says he adopted the hundred acres of land with authority from Kenya Forest Services (KFS), to plants trees in an effort to carry out reforestation in areas of the Mount Kenya forest which once boasted lush forest greenery, but now has been left treeless as a result of destructive farming methods. So far, out of 500,000 tree seedlings, 340 000 have been planted.

“I could not believe what I saw in some sections of the media alleging that I’d grabbed forest land to do farming. Our work here is to protect the environment by way of planting more trees in conjunction with community members who are residents from this area. When we came here this area had no trees but now you can see some tree seedlings that we’ve already planted,” says Kaberia. “I am not here to grow cabbages but to plant trees. With authority from KFS I adopted the 100 acres to join hands with community members to plant trees in an effort to carry out reforestation in areas which had forests, but were cleared for farming purposes long time ago.”

He said he got involved in the project way back in 2013 while he was still Kenya’s Ambassador in Brazil.  By then he was helping the community members in that area by assisting with water access and establishing tree nurseries among other things.

PS Kaberia talking to the media at Karuri area of Mt. Kenya forest where he’s adopted 100 acres of land to help in tree planting. After he is done with the 100 acres he aspires to be granted an extra 400 acres for tree planting, in his endeavor to meet his target of rehabilitating 500 acres of deforested land.

The Principal Secretary lauded the local Community Forest Association, commonly known as CFA, for their concerted efforts in protecting the forests – and said he was involved with similar projects in Marmanet forest in Laikipia, and other parts of Rift Valley.

With the help of the local CFA members, 25 acres of the land has been filled with trees, and soon Kaberia says the remaining 75 acres will also be blooming with new forest life.  Once this goal has been reached, the Principal Secretary plans to ask KFS to grant him permission to adopt 400 more acres to plant trees to meet his target of rehabilitating 500 acres of the now bare Mount Kenya forest.

The PS added that the other major reason as to why Mount Kenya forest should be conserved at all cost is because of its heritage in reference to the Kenyan people – especially the communities surrounding the mountain.  The site also has great tourism value, with numerous tourist sites found within the mountain ecosystem, which include sacred lakes and Mau Mau caves among others. Within the Karuri area, and just a stone’s throw from the 100 acres, Kaberia has also adopted another special area for reforestation – the Mau Mau cave known as POST NO.8.

The PS said POST NO.8 was used by Kenyan freedom fighters, the Mau Mau, as a place where they could leave messages for their fellow fighters in the forest, making it possible for them to communicate easily. He said sites of such environmental and historic importance need to be conserved, preserved and protected for posterity.

Report and photographs by Titus Murithi
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