Monday, March 2, 2009

The Valentines Day Trees4Love Event

The message in the placard is simple, clear and upto the point as far as the agenda of the day was concerned....................................Planting Trees..!!!

Despite this day being the lovers’ day, more than 1000 volunteers assembled in Karura Forest to commemorate the day by way of planting trees. Karura is one of the Nairobi environs carbon sink. The other carbon sink is in Ngong forest situated in the south-western part of the city. Tens of organizations were invited to attend the occasion. Cosmos Education Kenya was among the invited organizations that have been working closely with the Green Belt Movement and the UNEP since the launch of the Billion Tree Campaign/Plant for the Planet campaign. Trees4Love is the title UNEP chose for its Valentine's Day celebration; encouraging people to give their loved ones, on that special day, something more than a flower, a tree. The truth is that "While a flower withers away fairly soon, a tree is something that lasts; you nurture it and watch it grow. It is the ultimate symbol of everlasting love."

CEK Vice President Peter Kanja performs a joint tree planting with Kiss 100 Radio presenter Ms. Carol Radul.

Over Two thousand indigenous trees were planted in Nairobi's Karura forest, yesterday, by over one thousand nature-lovers, in a bid to make this year's Valentine's Day one of the greenest in Kenya's history. Most of the tree types planted are drought resistant while others need just a little amount of water to survive. The humus filled red volcanic soil in the venue will enable the seedlings to have a fast growth, under the care of the Kenya Forestry Service staff. Launched in 2006, the Billion Tree Campaign has catalyzed the planting of 2.6 billion trees around the world. According to the UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Angela Cropper, the gap between the pledged trees and the planted ones is quite wide and needs to be bridged. She also reiterated that the gap between the planted trees and the ones that survive is also a bit wide and urgently needs to be put under strict check. She added that the trees will help to combat the deforestation, with the UNEPs’ recent set goal of planting 7 billion trees - one per inhabitant of the planet - by the end of 2009.

CEK member Eva Gachuhi joins Cyrus and Vincent from the Green Warriors Youth group in planting a seedling.

The forests (Karura & Ngong) helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon emissions from the thriving Nairobi capital and its over three million inhabitants. They are also important water catchment areas for the Nairobi river-basin. Karura has also been a traditional site of the “Kihara Clan” indigenous people, who consider the forest a sacred land. They have lived for ages at the northern outskirt of the forest. They depend on the sweet wild fruits that they gather from the forest while collecting firewood from dry logs and twigs. In 2007, the UNEP was given the green light by the government to help reforest a total of 110 hectares of land in Karura and Ngong forests. These vast expansions had suffered from increased deforestation due to unsustainable activities, including illegal urban development. From then on, tree planting activities have been carried out more oftenly championed by the partnership of UNEP & Green Belt Movement with the help of youth organizations, companies, colleges, community based Organizations and government and private institutions
The Wildlife Club of Kenyatta University pose for a group photo

CEK team was led by Kanja Peter the Vice President. The members present included Eva Gachuhi, Lizbeth Mate and William Kimani. Billy Lombe represented CE Zambia. The members of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment had turned out significantly led by H.E. Rejoice Mabudafhas: co-chair of the Network of Women Ministers & leaders for environment & Deputy Minister of Environment & Tourism, South Africa. She also made a solo effort in planting a healthy croton seedling for the day’s commemoration which she dedicated to all the people who had turned up for the event.
Her.Exelency. Rejoice Mabudafhas: co-chair of the Network of Women Ministers & leaders for Environment & Deputy Minister of Environment & Tourism, South Africa planting a tree during the event.
As the planting continued, a 5 feet long snake emerged from a hole underneath a grassy area. The volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross society were planting their seedlings when one of the stumbled on the reptile and run for her dear life shouting at the top of her voice. Within no time, a crowd of people surrounded the snake albeit keeping a distance. The journalists jostled for positions to take photos before the members from the Youth for Animal Welfare moved it away and took it to a thicket far away from the crowd of people who wanted to kill it. It was evident that the reptile had had a meal earlier on in the day, resulting to demobilization. This made it easier for people to take photos.

The 5 feet long snake that emerged from a hole.

The watering of the newly planted trees is an activity that was done by the students from the universities that included, Kenyatta University, Nairobi University, Egerton University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology. The watering was very essesntial for the plants since the day was sunny. The KFS had availed several tunkers to bring enough water from the nearby river. The site preparation including clearing the invasive Lantana Camara vegetation and digging of the holes was carried out by the nearby comunity through a partnership with KFS (Kenya Forestry Service) and the Red Cross Society.

During the planting session, several organizations joined hands and planted trees for commemoration. In this case, CEK was not left behind and managed to join hands with 4 different groups i.e. Barclays bank, Athi River Mining Company, Green Warriors Youth Group and Kenyatta University Wildlife Club. We also had a joint planting with the Kiss 100 Radio and Radio Jambo Media houses staff members.

CEK members joins the Kiss 100 Radio and radio Jambo presenters in a group photo after jointly planting a Ficus Indica tree seedling.

As the event came to a close at 5pm, the site looked beautiful with the seedlings looking determined to grow tall, healthy and ready to multiply. For the CEK, the event marked another successful day of a noble activity. Before the departure, the CEK held a short meeting with Ms. Leah Wanambwa, a Consultant at the UNEPs’ Division of Communication & Public Information (DCPI) where various issues were discussed. Leah took the opportunity to thank the CEK for the attendance and a job well done. She singled out the good relationship between the two organizations and requested for more cooperation in many other environmental events lined up in the UNEPS’ calendar.

"Yes We Can....!" was my answer to her request.

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