Kenya: In continuing bilateral partnerships aimed at improving forest management, the governments of Kenya and France have collaborated in formulating a project that will assist the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in managing forest fires that have become a threat to the country’s forests and continue to slow down government’s efforts to achieve sustainable forest management levels through destruction of forests, especially during the dry season.
Speaking during the launch of the Forest Fire Management Project (FFMP) at the KFS headquarters today, the French State Minister of International Development, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, said that France was glad to partner with Kenya in forest conservation and management, noting that threats to forests in Kenya also affected the citizens of her country given that biodiversity loss is a global problem.
The Minister commented on Kenya’s efforts in increasing the country’s forest and tree cover through President William Ruto’s 15 billion tree growing campaign that seeks to increase the country’s tree cover to over 30% by the year 2032.
Zacharopoulou noted that the world was grappling with climate change, which was responsible for extreme weather conditions which contribute to forest fires.
The Acting Chief Conservator of Forests (Ag. CCF), Alex Lemarkoko, thanked the government and the people of France for their continued support of forest conservation initiatives.
He noted that Forest fires pose a real threat to the survival of the existing forests ecosystems given that 20 out of the 47 counties are classified as having forest fire hotspots, a situation that had been exacerbated by the negative effects of climate change, he added.
“Over the last decade, the country has recorded 457 major fire incidences that resulted in a loss of 123,812.15 Ha,” said Lemarkoko adding that during the recently experienced drought, a total of 180 forest fire incidences totalling 789 ha were reported.
Lemarkoko noted that France was already collaborating with the Service in the conservation of mangroves and thanked the Minister for the support in the acquisition of patrol boats to help in the protection of mangrove forests in Lamu County.
The Project, which officially started on the 31st of January 2023, will run for 28 months and will be implemented in three key water towers of Mau, Mt Kenya and Aberdare Forest Ecosystems with a total estimated forest area of about 802,032 ha.
The Project’s main objective is to enhance the institutional capacity of KFS to effectively manage forest fires as well as to build the capacities of various stakeholders to operate in an integrated forest fire management system. The Project will also enhance the training capacity of the Kenya Forest College on forest fire management.
Present during the event were the Ambassador of France to Kenya, Arnaud Suquet and the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger, as well as senior KFS officers.