Kenya on has signed an agreement with telecommunications firm, Safaricom to expand forest cover through planting an additional five million trees in the next five years.
Peter Kinyua, chairman of Kenya Forest Service (KFS), said the new agreement with Safaricom will promote restoration of depleted forests in north western parts of the country that are a source of livelihood to farmers and herders.
“The agreement we have signed today with Safaricom will involve establishment of indigenous tree seedlings in our protected forests. Restoring the health of this forests is a key to achieve sustainable development,” said Kinyua.
The new agreement was announced during the launch of Safaricom’s eighth sustainability report that called for greater involvement of businesses to drive equitable and green growth in Kenya.
Kinyua said the government is keen to partner with the private sector to expand forest cover from the current 7.2 percent to a minimum of 10 percent by 2022.
“We have engaged a number of corporate organizations to help achieve the 10 percent forest cover. Recently, some commercial banks agreed to be part of this program to reclaim our forests,” said Kinyua.
He said the government is providing space inside protected forests to enable businesses establish tree seedlings and partner with community based groups to promote reforestation.
Stephen Chege, head of corporate affairs at Safaricom, said the company will engage with Kenya Forest Service in a structured manner to tackle depletion of the vital ecosystem that is to blame for disrupting rural livelihoods.
“As a company, we have committed ourselves to support the government expand the forest cover in line with our sustainable business principles,” said Chege.
He said that Safaricom has rallied behind environmental stewardship in the light of climate change that has negatively impacted on businesses and community livelihoods.