Counties urged to prioritize protection and care of forests in their budget

Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judy Wakhungu during a tree planting ceremony in Kwale to mark World Forest day. PHOTO: SITA LAWRENCE.

Kwale, KENYA: Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judy Wakhungu has urged county governments to prioritize forestry development in their plans and budgets, to help the country achieve and maintain a 10 percent tree cover as stipulated in the Constitution.

Speaking during the annual celebrations of marking the World Forest Day on Tuesday in Ramisi primary Kwale county, Prof. Wakhungu said the devolved governments should set aside resources to facilitate the hiring of forestry experts and implementation of county forestry programmes.

The CS said the new Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016 which will soon be gazetted, will have far reaching effects on the way forests will be managed, as it is among the things which give devolved units a greater say in matters related to forests.

She said the new legislation will have direct impact on the county governments with some of its salient features being the inclusion of a nominee of the Council of Governors in the KFS Board and County Executive Committee members responsible for forestry in the County Forest Conservation Committees.

“I therefore urge all county governments to put in place county level policies and legislation which will be supportive of sustainable management of our forests,” Prof. Wakhungu added.

She also noted that last year’s signing of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change by Kenya, underlines the Jubilee administration’s commitment to providing leadership in taking care of the environment and forestry resources.

The CS who was accompanied by among others, the Finland Ambassador to Kenya Ms. Tarja Fernandez, said the National Forest Programme was a strategic framework for forest policy, planning and implementation to coordinate the sector’s development.

She lauded the government of Finland for providing both financial and technical support towards the preparation of the programme.

“This strategic framework will go a long way in supporting national efforts of increasing forest cover, reversing degradation of forests, enhancing forest based socio-economic and environmental benefits,” she said.