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Maasai Mau forest restoration kicks off

By George Kebaso
Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
In summary

The commitment to reclaim thousands of hectares of forest land in the Sierra Leone area of Maasai Mau kicked off Friday morning with the planting of 200,000 tree seedlings and about 500,000 seeds by air.

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said planting of seedlings will continue for the next four days to achieve at least four million by Tuesday.

Success of the exercise, he said, has been boosted by the voluntary vacation of those who occupied the forest illegally. He announced that all the illegal settlers have vacated Maasai Mau forest.

"It has been 30 years of stories after stories; one excuse after another, on why evictions from Mau cannot be done. The narrative has been crafted to mean that it is an individual's agenda. Nothing can be further from the truth," Tobiko said, noting that the beginning of replanting of the trees nullifies that narrative.

He made these remarks in apparent reference to political narratives being orchestrated by a majority of Rift Valley leaders.

Tobiko said 100 per cent of the settlers have vacated, paving way for reclamation of the water catchment area.

The 60-day window for people to voluntarily move out lapsed October 30. However, scores could still be seen struggling to move their crops out.

The CS dispelled claims that the government has employed brutality in evicting the illegal settlers.

"No single bullet has been fired. No houses have been burnt contrary to what politicians say in funerals and barazas," he said.

The CS said local communities are being mobilised to plant trees.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said restoring the Mau to its original state will be a painful exercise, but, nevertheless, it will be achieved.

"It's going to be a long and treacherous journey but we are determined to achieve it,” he said.

Various government parastatals donated seedlings for planting, including Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which gave 36,000 seedlings.

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