The Rt.Hon. Raila Odinga unveiling the plaque to commemorate Earth Day in Songi-Kobiyet Forest,Mau. With him is the Minister for Forestry & Wildlife, Hon. Dr. Noah Wekesa
The American Ambassodor, Mr. Ranneberger planting a tree during the same ocassion.
All roads yet again led to the Mau Forest Complex at Kiptunga forest station where several hundreds of people including the local community, some members of the diplomatic corps, a KFS delegation and the Prime Minister who was the chief guest gathered to plant trees in marking the international Earth Day celebrations.
It turned out to be a double celebration for KFS and especially the Mau Forest when the American Ambassador Mr. Michael Ranneberger who was in attendance announced a seven million dollars grant by the US government towards the restoration of the Mau.
While addressing the gathered crowd, the Prime Minister Right Hon. Raila Odinga thanked the American Government on behalf of the Kenyan Government for the kind gesture. He assured the ambassador that the money would be put to good use in reclaiming and reforesting the forest. The Prime Minister also noted that the process of restoring the whole of the Mau Complex was moving at a good pace and lauded the Interim Coordinating Secretariat (ICS) for their efforts.
Hon. Odinga cautioned people and especially politicians against personalizing and politicizing forest conservation noting that Kenya’s forests were a heritage for all Kenyans and not just a few communities. He noted that some Kenyan forest like the Mau was affecting the livelihoods of millions of people in the region and not just locally. The Prime Minister vowed to continue fighting for the restoration of the Mau until it was achieved saying that that was an important legacy to be associated with.
While addressing the same gathering, the American Ambassador Mr. Michael Ranneberger said that Kenya was sending a very strong and positive signal to the international community that it was taking environmental conservation seriously. He said this had prompted his government to commit the funds amounting to over half a billion shillings for the restoration of the Mau which he said was a very important to the country and the region.
Speaking at the same event, the chairman of the ICS Mr. Hassan Noor Hassan pointed out the economic value of the forest was insurmountable and that the loses that were being incurred due to the destruction of the forest were astronomical. He noted that tourism, hydropower and agriculture were suffering due to the status of the Mau.
The KFS Director Mr. David Mbugua thanked the Prime Minister on behalf of the government for the support extended to the Service since its inception. He added that the Service was doing everything within its capacity to make sure that all forests remain intact. He said that proper zoning of forest areas was being done to set aside areas for conservation in the form of indigenous forests and other areas for production of wood products for country’s industrial growth.
Report Courtesy of Leakey Sonkoyo