Migori County Government has entered into a partnership with the British America Tobacco (BAT) that is aimed at planting trees on the hilltops, river banks, schools and on-farms across the county.
This comes as the county government plans to plant more than 3 million seedlings to cover over 750 acres of land across the county.
Governor Zachary Okoth Obado, who was launching the initiative at Agongo Hill, in Uriri Sub County, said that the Kenya Forest Service will also be a partner in the programme to provide technical advice on escarpment, tree planting and management and tree species -site matching.
Agongo site is one of the hilltops in the county with magnificent features for eco-tourism and the rehabilitation is expected to improve its biodiversity.
The programme will conserve soil and water, and forest products like fuelwood, timber and medicinal plants will be available to the local residents on a sustainable basis. “The local community will provide labour for planting the tree seedlings and their maintenance. They were also to provide security,” he said.
He said that in the partnership, which will take four years, the county government will clear the Agongo Hill site and do maintenance of the trees and also to lobby for the gazettement of the area. The BAT is expected to provide tree seedlings and to do the planting for the Agongo hill.
The Agongo forest planting will take more than 40 acres and will be done in phases to plant more than 100, 000 seedlings of Grevillea robusta, Eucalyptus and Markhamia lutea with over 90 per cent survival rate.
“The youth and women groups gain employment in tree planting, tree maintenance and also security to the seedlings. The programme faced challenges like encroachment both illegal settlements and crop cultivation,” the county boss said.
The BAT Head of Operations for the East Africa, head of operations, Dirk Eloff, urged residents to protect the planted areas by ensuring animals are kept off the places. “We should take care of the area. Tree cutting is bad and should be avoided at all costs,” he said.
The county government has also partnered with the BAT in other areas such as the conservation of Okenge water pan in Nyatike Sub County where 5000 indigenous tree seedlings and bamboo have been planted along the banks.