Many arid places in Kenya are experiencing drought, extreme weather conditions and natural catastrophes due to scarcity of vegetation cover. This has been occasioned by the little or no rainfall experienced in these areas. One of the ways of improving these areas could be through tree planting. Trees help improve air circulation, prevent global warming, reduce soil erosion and boost soil fertility. They also act as significant water catchment areas since they hold more moisture, thus attracting rainfall.
Increase in rainfall means an increase in water supply which supports plant and animal life. This eradicates food shortages and drought in such areas, improving people’s lives. Trees also conserve soil. Many arid areas in the country can hardly practice farming and agriculture due to the infertile soils that stretch over large tracts of land. Soil infertility is mainly caused by the lack of vegetation cover, which leaves the land bare and more prone to soil erosion.
Barwako Mamo, Lekugreen Paradise founder, based in Marsabit county, highlights the importance of trees in arid areas. “Trees help reduce soil erosion by holding the soil together, attracting moisture, and providing nutrients to the soil, helping it regain fertility.” She said. The company, which is a beneficiary of the KCIC Greenbiz program, has been a champion for afforestation in arid areas.
“Once the soil has regained fertility, people can return to agricultural activities and obtain pastures for their animals which can also grow naturally. This, in turn, will provide food for them and their animals,” added Mamo. The arid areas are known to have a scarcity of pastures which is known to cause conflicts among communities since animals compete to find food for their survival. If these pastures are adequate for the animals, the disputes would reduce, and people would live together in peace and harmony.
In addition, trees can revive fallen industries of sawmilling and timber making. Using the policy of ‘cut one tree and replace with two’, people can revive these fallen industries and start those that may never have existed, such as paper-making. This will most definitely employ people living in the area and as a result, help improve their living standards. This way, the problem of poverty that has more often than not stricken these areas can be reduced or even eradicated. On top of that, industries can help improve other sectors of social amenities, such as the development of infrastructure and the betterment of education and health services.
In arid areas, people fear attacks by wild animals as they live in open lands with little population and roaming animals. Planting trees would significantly help reduce these attacks as wild animals would find a place to call home where they can find their food without necessarily going after people and their animals. Also, the government can help establish conservancies for these animals within the forest to tame them there.
By reforestation, various environmental problems, including arid land and soil erosion, can be addressed as well as the effects of climate change. According to studies, one trillion new trees could remove one-third of human-produced CO2 emissions, which could be a progressive move towards achieving a sustainable future.