Kenya Surprises Public with Holiday to Plant Trees

04:17 November 8, 2023

Kenya Surprises Public with Holiday to Plant Trees

The government of Kenya says November 13th will be a public holiday for nationwide tree planting. The surprise holiday is part of a huge plan to grow 15 billion trees by 2023 to fight climate change.

Kithure Kindiki is the Interior Minister of the African nation. He announced the tree planting holiday via the newspaper, which was then posted to social media. The announcement came after a cabinet meeting last week and was led by President William Ruto.

Kindiki says that the government expects the public to plant trees as part of their, “…patriotic contribution to the national efforts to save our Country from the devastating effects of Climate Change.”

The government has saved more than $80 million this year for the project. The goal is to increase tree cover to more than 10 percent. Right now, tree cover is only at seven percent.

The more tree cover, the less carbon in the air because the trees store it. Deforestation, or removing trees, speeds up climate change. It stops photosynthesis so the trees cannot take in the carbon. Deforestation often happens alongside burning, which also increases carbon dioxide.

Extreme weather events are worsening because of climate change in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya. There, rains have failed the past five seasons, though Kenya is currently experiencing heavy rains and flooding because of the El Nino weather event.

The Kenyan Environment Ministry said it would supply tree seedlings to citizens to stand for the government’s commitment on climate action.

Soipan Tuya is the Environment Minister. She said, “It is a moment for Kenyans to stand in solidarity in the defense of our environment.” She referred to the day as “a 'hummingbird' contribution day.”

Hummingbirds are small birds, but they play an important part in the environment by pollinating flowers. The saying means that it seems like a small contribution, but if everyone does it together, the results will be impactful.

Since becoming president in September of 2022, President Ruto has made the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Program a top consideration.

Kenya is part of the British Commonwealth. King Charles III praised the efforts last week on his first visit to an African nation since becoming King last year.

King Charles said at a state dinner, “Having been planting trees for most of my life, I thought I was doing rather well, but your ambition for planting 15 billion trees makes me admire your efforts.”

During his visit, Charles planted a tree at the State House in the capital city of Nairobi. He also planted one in the Karura forest. The forest is associated with Wangari Maathai, the late environmentalist and Nobel prize winner who made the Green Belt Movement, which was the original tree planting effort in Kenya in the 1970s.

I’m Faith Pirlo.

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