By Boniface Mulu

About 350 tree seedlings donated by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) were on Wednesday, June 15, planted at the Ndumoni Primary School in Kitui Central, in Kitui County.

Various species including the Olea africana, Tamarindus indica, Croton megalocarpus and Senna siamea are among those planted. NEMA Kitui County Director, Stephen Muriithi, was the chief guest at the event, where he had been accompanied by his deputy Naftaly Osoro.

In his address to pupils, parents and teachers after the tree planting exercise, Muriithi said NEMA has planted plenty of trees in schools and around rivers among others in Kitui County to mark this year’s World Environment Day, the 50th anniversary.

“And also we had a cleanup exercise of the Kalundu market in Kitui Town to mark the day,” Muriithi said. “Only One Earth was the theme of this year’s event, celebrated in Sweden where the World Environment Day was started by the United Nations in 1972,” the NEMA chief said.

The World Environment Day is globally marked on June 5. Underscoring the importance of trees, the environmental expert said “a mature tree can provide oxygen for breathing to eight people daily, adding oxygen, which forms 20 per cent of the air, has many uses including medical treatment in hospitals.

“I’m asking you to plant trees wherever you go for the good of environmental protection, Muriithi said, adding without conserving the environmental conservation, global warming will keep rising.

On his part, Kitui Forest Station Conservator, Stanley Marioko, sensitised the gathering on various tree species. He said Olea africana is an indigenous tree with many benefits.

“It’s good for charcoal and has some medicinal value,” said the KFS official, adding Tamarindus indica is a drought resistant species that has good fruits and possesses medicinal value. Marioko clarified this species is only found in Kitui.

Assistant County Forest Conservator Charles Kavithi also addressed the event where he had represented County Forest Conservator Monica Masibo. Kavithi disclosed that recently KFS planted 1,000 trees at the Mwaani Primary School in Kisasi Sub County.

“Their advantage is that that they have sufficient water.  KFS is going to plant trees in all schools in Kitui County that have sufficient water for the good of the environmental conservation. At 70 per cent survival rate, we’re just as good,” said Kavithi, adding Kitui County’s forest cover currently stands at 12.3 per cent, in view of the country’s set target of 30 per cent by the year 2050.

Thanking Ndumoni Primary School head teacher, Gladys Boniface for requesting for some tree seedlings to plant in her school, Kavithi said KFS always deliver tree seedlings to all schools that place requests to them.

Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) official, Bernard Kimani Kigwa, who also addressed the event, talked about the Melia volkensii, a fast maturing with origins in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania.

“The mature Melia trees range between 6 and 20 metres tall,” Kigwa said, adding that the species produce high value timber.

The expert further noted Melia volkensii is drought and termite resistant. The official, who had represented KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre Director, Dr Albert Luvanda at the function, said the institute is working towards promoting the species in the country.

Melia volkensii belongs to the Meliaceae family that is known to have biologically active limonoids. In Kenya, the species is found in Kitui, Machakos, Embu, Taita Taveta, Isiolo, Samburu and Makueni counties.

In her speech, the Ndumoni Primary School head teacher assured KFS and NEMA that the school community will take care of the trees they provided to them for the sake of environmental conservation.

“We’ve a dream of changing our school environment through the trees planting,” said Ms Boniface, the head teacher. She disclosed that the Ndumoni Primary School currently has a total of 348 pupils -180 boys and 168 girls.

The head teacher further disclosed that the learning institution currently has a total of sixteen teachers 14 females 2 males.

Local Curriculum Support Officer (CSO) Damaris Musyoka and Ndumoni assistant chief Gabriel Wambua also addressed the event. The Assistant Chief thanked NEMA and the KFS “for coming to plant trees in this school of ours.”

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