County Executive Committee Member (CECM) of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources George Emoru called for the sensitisation of Turkana residents to conserve and preserve the local tree species during this year’s marking of the International Day of Forests (IDF) held in Lokichoggio, Turkana West Sub-county.

Speaking at Hannah Emuriakin Primary School, where a tree planting ceremony was held, CEC Emoru said that was also equally important to plant trees especially now that the world is ravaged by climate change.

“Turkana used to get rain at a certain month but now the pattern has changed. We have damaged our environment by cutting trees and burning charcoal which has contributed to the decrease of tree cover,” he said.

He added that in preserving the local tree species communities can utilise proposis for socio-development like burning it for charcoal, building homes, sale of firewood and making feeds.

One of the main stakeholders, Horn of Africa Environment Network working through South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) led by its Director John Kamanga said that the only way to save the world from climate change is by the simple action of planting more trees. SORALO as part of the Environmental resilience project will in future be entering into an MoU with the County Government of Turkana to jointly implement conservation of wildlife and rangeland programs.

On her part of Deputy Director of Natural Resources, Pauline Ngoli Pusiye, said that county government is committed to increasing tree cover now that dryland forestry is fully devolved.

“It is the responsibility of each one of us, governments, churches to ensure that we participate to restore forests through campaigns and planting and conserving trees. Let’s us be ambassadors and take that message to our communities in order to increase our forest cover,” said the CEC.

Also presents and who spoke on the importance of planting trees and conserving the environment were Joshua Napoco Ekitela (Sub-county Admin. – Turkana West), Hellen Nakaru (Deputy Director Tourism), Dr. Edward Mengich (Assistant Director – Kefri, Lodwar), Dr Peter Edome (Dean – School of Science and Technology, Turkana University College) and Sheikh Yusuf Ali Aremons (Chair of Turkana Inter-religious Council).

The other participating stakeholders included Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya Forestry Service and Mercy Corps. Approximately 1500 tree seedlings were distributed and planted to mark the day; celebrated every year on the 21st March.