Mount Kenya University has partnered with the Kenya Forest Service to plant an estimated 3000 trees this rainy season in efforts to increase forest cover.
MKU founder Simon Gicharu says the institution will continue to play a critical role in climate change through conservation of environment by supporting planting of thousands of trees every year in line with the Government of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Gicharu who spoke during the Mount Kenya University botanic tree planting ceremony under the theme “panda miti, penda Kenya” said, “The School of Pure and Applied Sciences in collaboration with the Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and other partners won a grant of 850,000 Euros in 2020 (Over 110 million Kenyan Shillings) as a grant to be utilized in the restoration of Brackenhurst forest, near Limuru in Kenya.
This, he said will include the assessment and protection of indigenous medicinal plants of Brackenhurst forest and determination of the medicinal components of the plants leading to their protection as well as documentation and protection of indigenous medical plants of Brackenhurst forest.
Assistant Chief Conservator of Forests James Mwang’ombe who was the guest of honour during the tree planting exercise said climate change challenges continue to endanger our environment compromising our biological diversity.
“Plants especially trees are essential for provisioning and regulatory services. Important herbal medicines, drugs and their derivatives necessary for management of different human and animal conditions are sourced from trees, shrubs and other plant forms,” He said.
He lauded MKU for setting up the botanical garden saying Kfs will continue to support and encourages private entities such as universities and individuals to develop private forests and other conservation mechanisms.
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Deogratius Jaganyi urged MKU Directorate of Linkages together with all relevant schools to initiate collaborations with the Kenya Forestry College and the Department of the Kenya Forest Service to obtain seedlings for distribution to Kenyans at the Counties through MKU Campuses in the effort to boost the Government’s target towards 10% of the forest cover by 2030.
According to Pro-Chancellor Dr. Vincent Gaitho, a University Botanic Garden is vital for quality teaching and research in science based programmes such as Pharmacy, Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Ecology, Botany, Environment Sciences, Bioinformatics and Agriculture.
Gaitho said a Botanic Garden enables students and researchers to learn and research on plants in their natural settings.
He said the next phase of development will position the MKU botanic garden as a world class botanical garden and a Centre of Excellence in bio conservation of indigenous plants.
“This is indeed a timely project which is in line with the Kenya Vision 2030 that aims to raise the Kenya forest cover to over 10% for environmental conservation, education, research and development needs,” He said.
The tree planting exercise coincided with the Earth Day which is observed every year in April 22nd, with this years’ theme being “Restore Our Earth” which focuses on natural processes and emerging green technologies that can restore the ecosystems.