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Harvesting the wildlings

Nairobi, 17 June 2004 –More than 100 Nairobi schoolchildren are expected at Nairobi’s City Park on Saturday, 19 June to assist in efforts aimed at preserving indigenous trees. The children form an active part of the United Nations Environment Programme Plant for the Planet Campaign. They will join the Nairobi City Council in harvesting naturally occurring seedlings (also called wildlings) of the Markhamia Lutea and will care for them in school nurseries until they are ready to be planted.

Members of the Plant for the Planet team were told of the availability of the seedlings during a meeting last week with the City Council. The seedlings are growing at the park but must be harvested within a specified time to ensure their survival. Thus, there here is a note of urgency about the tasks which the team will perform on Saturday.

The harvesting process comes at an opportune moment. In an article of 10 June 2004, The Daily Nation newspaper reported that the Kenyan Government has pledged to make an expenditure of KSh 20 million in the next ten years to increase Kenyan forest cover by 30,000 hectares. Campaigns such as the Plant for the Planet are taking the task to the children so they can play a part in environmental protection. At present the average annual loss of forests is approximately 5,000 hectares per year, while that of woodlands, bushlands and wooded grasslands is decreasing at an estimated rate of 50,000 ha, annally.

The activity by the schoolchildren also underscores the need of involving local communities and other stakeholders in conservation activities which will be beneficial to the wider Kenyan commuity in the long run.

A UNEP News Release

For more information, please contact: Angele Luh, Information Officer, Regional Office for Africa, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi; tel: 254 20 624292; email angele.luh@unep.org; or Anna Holmström, Intern; tel.: 623018; Mobile 0720 270091.

Note to Editors: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a global Plant for the Planet tree planting campaign for school and children in February 2003. The campaign is making efforts to reduce deforestation by encouraging schools to participate in afforestation projects in their communities. The campaign also seeks to promote partnerships between local companies and schools in planting and caring for trees. To date, over 70,000 trees have been planted.

While the Kenyan Government has protection of forests and the environment high on its agenda, there are other concerns such as improved living standards for the people of Kenya that demand priority attention. Hence community participation in conservation activities is welcome.

The theme of next year’s World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June to mark the founding of UNEP, is Green Cities.

City Park is one of the last remaining protected areas of Somali-Maasai region type of forest.