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Citizens of Kenya get an unusual holiday for the most wholesome and inspiring reason

The holiday has been set aside to allow all Kenyans to participate in efforts related to the climate crisis.

Citizens of Kenya get an unusual holiday for the most wholesome and inspiring reason
Representative Cover Image Source: Pixabay | ean254

Kenyans recently got a special tree-planting holiday to plant 100 million seedlings as part of the government's new goal to help fight climate change. Each Kenyan is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings as part of the public holiday and "to own the initiative," according to Environment Minister Soipan Tuya, reports BBC. The seedlings have been given for free at forest agency centers for the people to grow in designated public areas. Also, people can plant at least two seedlings on their own land.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Collines Omondi
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Collines Omondi

President William Ruto, who led the exercise in Makueni in the east of the country, hopes to plant 15 billion trees by 2032 to fight against deforestation and climate crisis, per The Guardian. It is an attempt to boost Kenya's forest cover in the aftermath of the worst drought to take place in the Horn of Africa region in 40 years. Cabinet ministers, county governors and other officials led the initiative in several other areas. Dozens of people gathered near the source of Kenya's second-longest river, Athi. Some of the people included soldiers, residents and their family members in the process.



 

"I have planted more than 50 trees today. I think this is a powerful and necessary initiative for the planet, especially after experiencing a dramatic drought in Kenya for several consecutive seasons," government official Joan Kirika told AFP, per WION News. "I hope we keep celebrating this day annually, not necessarily as a holiday but as a yearly reminder to care about the environment and think about the planet."



 

Not only government officials but also younger people supported the initiative and were happy to be an integral part of it. "I have come together with my colleagues, I'm happy to be here to show my love for the environment," Wycliffe Kamau told the BBC. "I have come to plant trees here because our water levels have been diminishing. Even here at the river source, the levels are very low and trees have been cleared," said local resident Stephen Chelulei. "We need to reverse climate change so that our children can have a place to live when we are no longer there."



 

While some believe the initiative is a good idea, they don't believe it will be as effective as it seems. Environmentalist Teresa Muthoni said the exercise was not organized in a way that would ensure everyone was planting trees, although it was a great idea. She said, "Many people have to continue with their work to put food on the table, it is coming at a time when our economy is not doing well, so a lot of people are struggling financially." She also pointed out that "a lot of the 150 million trees available" in public nurseries were exotic. "It is very important to plant the right trees in the right place," she said.

The establishment has also been criticized for championing tree planting while failing to tame illegal logging in public forests; it recently lifted a ban on logging. Experts believe that this will have far-reaching environmental implications. Government statistics claim that forestry and logging contributed 1.6 percent to Kenya's economy last year. Ruto's decision in July to lift a nearly six-year moratorium on logging has been put under the spotlight. But he has defended the decision, claiming it would create jobs. He also added that it was "foolishness" to let mature trees rot while sawmills were importing timber.

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