Climate Reporters: Kenyan hiking group makes tree planting pledge

by Titus Murithi

What began as the usual weekend hike for this local youth group became a trip to honour the late Father Andrew Mbiko and Brother Giuseppe Argese. Upon learning of the recent passing of Brother Giuseppe Argese – who with the late Father Andrew Mbiko dedicated decades of their lives to forest conservation, water resource management and community upliftment in Meru County – Hiking Friends decided to start a new climate action tradition of their own.

Hiking Friends, a Kenyan mountain hiking group, have pledged to plant trees every rainy season as part of their efforts to tackle climate change and global warming.

Climate Reporter, Titus Murithi, and Hiking Friends Member, Eunice Wanjiru, are ready to go into the forest to plant their tree seedlings!

Residing in Nairobi and working in a range of diverse fields, Hiking Friends are a group of young Kenyans whose favourite hobby is hiking the mountains and hills of Kenya and East Africa – and they have big plans to hike further into Africa in the future.

On 29 September, the group embarked on a two-day hike of Nyambene hills forest in Meru County. Led by team leader Lawi Mutuma Njeru, Hiking Friends planted 9 tree seedlings within the forest as the culmination of their hiking and camping event.

Before the hike began, ACRP Climate Reporter, Titus Murithi (who also doubles as a tour guide) led a discussion with Hiking Friends about climate change, global warming and the negative impacts of the two phenomenon on planet earth.

Murithi explained that the increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – such as carbon dioxide – is the leading cause of anthropogenic climate change. These emissions happen as a result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels like petroleum, cooking gas, and coal to generate our electricity; cutting down trees and degrading forests, as well as fumes from factories and industries.

The group discussed simple actions which can be taken by all global citizens, right from the local villages to the big cities to fight back the negative impacts of climate change and global warming. This can be anything from planting trees, to walking or cycling instead of driving, or even lobbying for 100% renewable energy.

The hikers jumped at the idea of tree planting as a way to take climate action – no surprise considering their hobby!

Hiking Friends member, Alex Kahiga.

“We’ve hiked mountains and hills in Kenya and parts of East Africa and we are planning to hike mountains in other parts of Africa. Most of these mountains and hills are forested while a few are rugged and without many trees. Terrains in hills and mountains without trees are difficult to walk through and not very welcoming,” said Njeru. “We’d brought tree seedlings to plant in Nyambene forest in honour of late Father Andrew Mbiko and late Brother Giuseppe Argese because of their concerted efforts to conserve this forest from which they’ve tapped water for the community.”

Eunice Wanjiru – known by most as Kayune – has pledged to plant trees all around her community.

Eunice Wanjiru, another Hiking Friends member, said from now on she would be planting trees every rainy season in her rural home as well as other public places. She said planting trees during rainy season will now be included in her hobbies and will be one of her top priorities.

All eleven group members agreed that they would commit to planting trees every rainy season, and use their tree planting activities to spread the climate action message to others in their community.

“Since we’ve learnt that forests act as a carbon sink thus reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we shall be planting trees in each and every mountain and hill we shall happen to visit so that we can be part and parcel of global citizens fighting climate change and global warming,” said team leader Njeru.

Hiking Friends and Climate Reporter, Titus Murithi, pose with African Climate Reality Project posters at Nyambene forest.
Group members include Onesmus Kirimi, Eunice Wanjiru, James Ndwiga, Kimiti Gituku, Margaret Wambui, Alex Kahiga, Lawi Mutuma, Caroline Wanjiru, Serah Njeri, Caroline Gimei and Winfred Mimano.

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