FENCING AND TECH
Kamau said fencing of some of the critical and threatened forest ecosystems is being done through a partnership with stakeholders, with resources mobilised from within the country and beyond.
He said fencing aims to enhance forest protection and conservation to allow natural regeneration of forests and secure planted areas.
Kamau said the fence is not a barrier but regulates access to forest areas and secures the integrity of forest boundaries.
He said such fences protect lives, properties and investments of forest-adjacent communities.
Some of the fences put up with the help of partners such as Rhino Ark, a conservation NGO, include Mau Eburu, Aberdares and Mt Kenya ecosystems.
The Kenya Water Towers Agency is also putting up an electric fence within the Maasai Mau forest to protect the most degraded areas and allow for rehabilitation and tree planting.
The degraded areas are those from which illegal settlers were evicted.
Farming, livestock, illegal logging and charcoal burning had damaged the important water tower.
The fence is to cover a perimeter of about 120km from Sierra Leone to Olkurto.
Kamau said cutting-edge technologies are also being deployed in forest resource management, monitoring and reporting.
“Mobile phones with Smart Technology App are being used to monitor, report and act on changes in forest cover in near real-time on a pilot basis,” the chief conservator said.
He said internal platforms have been developed to enhance reporting on seedling production, forest crimes, forest fires and tree planting activities across the country.
Other initiatives include the procurement and deployment of drones with the support of UN FAO.
KFS has also urged private nurseries to register through an online platform to be certified by Kenya Forest Research Institute.
Kefri has also developed a new mobile app that automatically informs Kenyans of the best species to plant in their areas and tracks their growth.
Kefri App was launched during the National Conference on Forestry Innovations, whose theme was: ‘Inspiring innovation in forestry to accelerate the attainment of the Big Four Agenda’.
Kefri research and development senior deputy director Dr Jane Njuguna said the app will enable government institutions, private companies and individuals to document tree planting activities over time.
“They will also monitor the survival of planted trees and, when fully implemented, it will provide big data on the total number of trees planted in the country, disaggregated by species, age, county or region, and so on,” she said.
Njuguna said once trees have been planted, Kefri officials will have to verify that the trees were indeed planted and that they survived before data is fed into the system. This, she said, will ensure data is accurate.
Aerial seeding is another technology that has been embraced as was used a few years ago to restore Maasai Mau.
Institutional reforms have also been rolled out at the KFS and Kefri. At KFS, this was ushered in following the moratorium on logging.
The move was meant to curb the wanton forest destruction and all the illegal activities identified by a task force formed by the government.
At Kefri, reforms have also been going on with a view to enhancing seed production capacity.
In support of the move to increase forest cover to 10 per cent, Kefri has produced 55 metric tonnes of seeds.
The institute had been tasked by the government that by June 2021, it was supposed to have hit 160 metric tonnes to be shared out to enhance the cover.
Edited by T Jalio