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Why we should plant more trees in Kenya


Date Posted: 6/14/2019 6:05:43 AM

Posted By: Dana05  Membership Level: Silver  Total Points: 317

As we mark world environmental day every year, political and religious leaders always come out to encourage us to plant more trees. Some of them walk the talk and actually engage in tree planting exercises in different regions of the country. Moreover, some notable leaders have converted tree planting into a habit by planting trees in their homesteads and encouraging their electorate to do the same. Various organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental are actively engage in tree planting among other environmental conservation measures around Kenya. This institutions also organize forums, seminars, workshops among others where they create awareness on the importance of the various afforestation and reforestation programs around the country. In this forums, they educate the general public on the various types of trees, the climatic conditions that best suit them, the non-climatic conditions that they require and the importance of the various species of trees. Despite these efforts, many Kenyans still continue to cut down trees without replanting new ones as is recommended. This has led to a decline in the country’s forest cover in the recent years. It should however be noted that most Kenyans cut down trees as they do not have information on the importance of trees both to human beings and the wildlife. We shall take a look at the economic impacts of trees.

Trees are vital in the industrialization of Kenya. Some trees are raw materials for various industries in different sectors. Hardwood trees such as mahogany are a raw material in the construction and building industry. These hardwood trees are used in the making of cabins, cow sheds, poultry coops and many other structures. They are converted into electricity and telephone poles. They are also used to support concrete buildings as they are still being constructed. Hardwood trees such as cedar are used

in making different types of furniture, wooden sculptures, utensils and other household items such as vases. Softwood trees such as cypress are a raw material in the paper making industry. Some trees such as the Neem tree and aloe Vera are of medicinal value and hence are used in making of drugs. Aloe Vera is said to cure different kinds of diseases while the Neem tree is said to cure up to forty different kinds of illnesses. The benefits of industrialization are far and wide reaching in any country. Some of the benefits of industrialization include development of transport and communication infrastructure and social amenities, urbanization of the regions where the industries are located, employment of the locals in the industries which in turn improves their living standards as they have a source of income.

Trees have also been key in promoting tourism in Kenya. The various forest in the country are home to different kinds of wildlife. Wildlife is comprised of trees, animals, birds and insects. The tropical Savannah grasslands of Kenya are home to the great cats of Africa comprising of the lions, cheetahs, leopards; mammals such as the elephants which are the largest land mammal, chimpanzee, baboons and birds such as the ostrich among other animals. These forest are also home to various species of trees depending on the type of forest. The Kakamega forest which is an equatorial forest is home to large equatorial vegetation comprised of large trees mostly of the hardwood species with large canopies, the Arabuko Sokoke along the coast is comprised of mangroves as the main vegetation while the Savannah grasslands vegetation is found the plains of the eastern region. Tourism is major revenue earner in Kenya and is one of the economic pillars that is expected to aid the country in the achievement of the vision 2030. The revenue earned from tourism in the development of transport and communication networks and building of social amenities. Tourism has provided employment for people directly in the game parks as game wardens, Kenya Wildlife Service personnel and indirectly in the hotel and hospitality industry. This has raised the living standards of the people as they have a source of livelihood. Tourism has also led to the urbanization of the regions where the parks are located. An example is the Maasai Mara game reserve that has earned world fame for Kenya.

The various forests in the Kenya are major water catchment areas. During the day when there are high temperatures and low humidity in the atmosphere, trees lose water to the atmosphere through transpiration. This water lost to the atmosphere forms clouds which eventually leads to the formation of conventional rainfall. Due to the high amounts of rainfall received in these forested areas, they form a good source of various rivers in Kenya through runoff. Some forests are found in hilly and mountainous regions and therefore form streams that flow down slope and eventually converge leading to the formation of tributaries that give rise to rivers once they reach gently sloping regions. An example is river Tana whose tributaries flow from the Mount Kenya forest. Rivers eventually flow into lakes, oceans and seas.

The various water bodies in Kenya have various uses in Kenya. These water bodies provide water for domestic use and industry use. Waterfalls along rivers are also used in the production of hydroelectricity since the water provides the force used to turn turbines used in the production of electricity. Water bodies are a habitat for fisheries both fresh water and marine. They also provide employment to those who exploit fisheries for economic use.

Trees are important in encouraging research and educational activities through various ways. There are various institutions that have been established to study the various species of animals, birds and insects found within the different forests. An example is ICIPE that studies insects. There are also institutions that study and conduct research on the various species of trees. Indirectly, trees have contributed to education through the role they play in tourism and the existence of water bodies. Learning and research institutions have established to study and teach fresh water and marine fisheries. Tourism has led to the establishment of institutions that train the personnel that train the people employed in the hospitality and hotel industry and those who work in the game parks and reserves in the various capacities.

Trees also play a vital role in agricultural activities and environmental conservation. Trees shed their leaves as a means of excretion or due to the prevailing season. These leaves eventually decay and form humus. Humus enriches the soil for agricultural activities. The roots also hold soil particles together thus preventing gully and rill erosion. The leaves of trees reduce the speed of falling water particles and thus preventing splash erosion. Trees are also planted with other crops such as cocoa. Excessive wind breaks the cocoa pods from the trees thus the trees in between act as windbreakers. Other trees that are absorb a lot of water are planted in areas that frequently experience flooding to absorb the flood water. Trees also used for beautification of the environment and forming the edges of homesteads.

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