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Kenya Declares Surprise National Tree Planting Day Holiday
Kenya declared a surprise holiday with the goal of planting 15 billion trees by 2032, aiding the climate crisis response and receiving royal praise from King Charles III.
The Kenyan government has proclaimed Nov. 13, 2023, a special public holiday for a nationwide tree-planting initiative, as part of its ambitious commitment to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki made the official announcement via a gazette notice shared on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. This decision followed a recent Cabinet meeting chaired by President William Ruto.
"The government has declared a unique holiday on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, during which citizens nationwide are encouraged to engage in tree planting as a patriotic contribution to our collective efforts to combat the adverse impacts of climate change," declared Kindiki.
Currently, Kenya's forest cover stands at approximately 7 percent, but the government has allocated over $80 million for the current fiscal year to boost the tree cover to over 10 percent.
The importance of trees in mitigating climate change is well-recognized. Trees act as carbon sinks, which play a crucial role in reducing global warming. In contrast, deforestation exacerbates climate change by halting the process of plant photosynthesis, preventing trees from absorbing carbon. Additionally, deforestation often involves burning, which releases substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The effects of climate change, such as worsening droughts, have become increasingly prevalent in the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, where consecutive seasons have witnessed a failure in rainfall.
Kenya's Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry has pledged to provide tree seedlings for what they describe as an "unprecedented demonstration of the government's commitment to climate action."
Environment Minister Soipan Tuya emphasized, "This is a moment for Kenyans to unite in defense of our environment, akin to the 'hummingbird' story, with all of us joining forces to confront the climate change crisis."
Since taking office in September 2022, President William Ruto has prioritized the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Program. His vision has earned commendations, including from King Charles III, who recently visited Kenya for his inaugural trip to an African nation since ascending to the throne last year.
Expressing his admiration, King Charles said at a state banquet, "Having planted trees for most of my life, I thought I was making a difference. However, your commitment to planting 15 billion trees leaves me in awe of your efforts."
During his visit, King Charles symbolically planted a tree at the State House in Nairobi and also at the Karura forest, closely associated with the late environmentalist and Nobel laureate, Wangari Maathai.
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