Over 500 participants took part in The Forest Challenge 2019 on Sunday at Kereita Forest in Kiambu County to raise funds for rehabilitation of Kenya’s water towers.
The annual event was jointly organised by the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS), the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO).
Kenya Forest Service Chief Conservator, Mr Julius Kamau, flagged off the more than 30 teams participating in run – an annual fun, though onerous run over 13 challenging obstacles through the woodland.
Participants waded through mud pits and rivers, tumbled up and down slippery trails — all in the name of preserving and expanding, through afforestation, Kenya’s natural forests, many of which are the source of our country’s water supply.
Kenya’s forests are on a rapid decline. Deforestation is taking place at an alarming rate of 0.3 percent each year due to pressure from increased population, wood fuels, building material and other unsustainable land uses.
The Forest Challenge seeks to reverse this trend by increasing awareness on forest conservation while helping to protect and manage the degraded forests of Kenya’s critical water towers.
“To attain the 10 percent tree cover by 2022, one creative avenue for the service lies in forming partnerships with – among others – non-state actors, through tree planting initiatives that aim to spur a tree growing culture among our youth today,” said the KFS Chief Conservator, Mr Julius Kamau.
Also in attendance were David Kuria, Kiambu County’s Executive Committee Member for Environment, Water and Natural Resources as well as senior KFS officials and Nancy Ogonje, EAWLS’ executive director.
“Our resolve and commitment to continue our efforts to conserve the environment for posterity has been reinforced further by the recent unfortunate landslides in West Pokot – a wake-up call for us to come together and try to mitigate such incidents by planting more trees, because when such a calamity occurs, we are all affected,” said Ogonje.
With support from different firms, including UAP Old Mutual and Faulu, Safaricom PLC, Total as well as the Kiambu County Government, the Forest Challenge is making significant headway toward achieving its goal of reforesting 600 hectares of key water towers.