The government of Kenya has declared an unexpected national holiday on November 13th to promote a country-wide tree planting initiative, as part of their goal to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.
The announcement was made by the interior minister, Kithure Kindiki, through an official notice shared on social media.
Kindiki stated that the government has designated a unique day of rest on November 13, 2023. On this day, citizens are encouraged to participate in planting trees as a way to show their support for the nation’s efforts to combat the destructive impacts of climate change.
Kenya’s forest cover stands at about 7% but the government has set aside more than $80m (£65m) this financial year as part of its effort to increase it to more than 10%.
Trees absorb and store carbon, which is a major contributor to global warming. On the other hand, cutting down trees speeds up climate change by interrupting the process of plant photosynthesis, preventing trees from absorbing carbon. Deforestation is often accompanied by burning, which emits significant amounts of carbon dioxide.
The Horn of Africa, particularly Kenya, is experiencing increasingly severe droughts due to the climate crisis. Rainfall has been absent for five consecutive seasons.
The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry in Kenya has announced plans to supply tree seedlings as a demonstration of the government’s dedication to fulfilling our climate action responsibilities.
The environment minister, Roselinda Soipan Tuya, stated that it is a crucial time for the people of Kenya to unite and protect our environment. She described it as a day where we all come together, like hummingbirds, to combat the crisis of climate change.
Since becoming president in September 2022, William Ruto has placed great importance on the national landscape and ecosystem restoration program. His efforts have been commended by King Charles III, who recently visited Kenya for the first time since becoming monarch in the previous year.
While attending a state banquet, he expressed his admiration for the ambitious goal of planting 15 billion trees, stating that despite having planted trees for a majority of his life, he believed he was doing well.
During his time in the country, Charles planted a tree at both the State House in Nairobi and the Karura forest. This forest holds significance as it is linked to the renowned environmentalist and Nobel laureate, Wangari Maathai.