CS Tobiko declares Mathenge tree a threat to national security

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Prosopis Juliflora (Mathenge tree) was declared a national security threat in Kenya on Friday.

“The invasive species has so far colonized 20 counties. According to a report, the total area covered by the Mathege tree is 2 million hectares of land and it is expanding at a rate of 15% per year,” said the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and of the Keriako Tokibo Forests.

The CS was speaking at Eldume Primary School in Baringo South Sub-County of Baringo County, where Kenya joined the world in marking Desertification and Drought Day whose theme is “coming out of the drought together”.

In a bid to stem the threat, Tobiko noted that the ministry has been observing the tree’s growth rate, characteristics and uses for the past two years to try to secure a permanent solution to eradicate it.

Prosopis Juliflora (Mathenge)

One of the solutions to this threat, as evidenced by Francis Ole Kipirich’s 22 acre farm in Salabani, Baringo South, is to uproot the tree and plant Cechrus ciliaria (grass).

When mature, the seeds are harvested and cost Ksh 300-450 per kilogram while the grass stalks are left to graze by animals.

Francis Ole Kipirich at his 22 acre Cechrus Ciliaries (grass) farm in Salabani, Baringo South. /Courtesy photo/

Another form of eradicating the Mathenge tree is to burn it into charcoal using high recovery kilns. The use of kilns reduces unnecessary tree cutting, as it offers the possibility of producing more charcoal while reducing wood waste and environmental pollution.

Mathenge is burned to charcoal using high recovery kilns in Marigat, County Baringo /Courtesy Photo/

The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Dr. Chris Kiptoo, further noted that the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and KEFRI have also taken a number of measures to address the Prosopis threatens among them the successful pilot projects undertaken in the county.

“The pilot project aims to empower local communities in the affected areas in mechanical control through thinning, pruning and destruction of stumps, utilization (manufacture of various products) and biological control trials,” did he declare.

Dr Kiptoo also pointed out that drylands, known as the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya, make up about 80% of Kenya’s total land area, home to about 9.9 million Kenyans (or about 34% of the country’s population).

“ASALs represent more than 80% of the country’s ecotourism interests and up to 75% of its wildlife population. Drylands nevertheless receive insufficient investment, both in terms of funding and political incentives, and are under-recognized for their potential value in national development and poverty reduction,” he added.

Speaking on the same subject, NEMA Chief Executive Officer Mamo B. Mamo said that it is incumbent on the people of Baringo County to take the lead in environmental management and conservation.

Nema Board of Trustees led by Chairman Dr Lul Abdiwahid plants a tree with senior guest CS Keriako Tobiko at Eldume Primary School in commemoration of Desertification and Drought Day
Photo courtesy

“I call on everyone to use environmental resources wisely, avoid waste and be stewards of environmental stewardship. A safe and healthy environment leads to a stable and vibrant economy. Let us all work towards this goal, because it is our environment, our life and our responsibility,” he said.

Dr Yussuf Wato, Director, Biodiversity, Research and Innovation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Kenya, on his part noted that the impact of drought is food insecurity for people.

Dr Wato further noted that if we do not stop desertification we will experience increased food insecurity and hunger, water scarcity and loss of life for people, livestock and wildlife. in extreme cases of drought.

Therefore, Kenya’s population growth coupled with current poverty levels, climate change patterns, drought and desertification processes pose serious challenges to the conservation of ecosystems, especially drylands.

These include soil erosion; soil compaction; soil crusting; reduced agricultural production; loss of vegetation cover; water shortage; vulnerability to climate change; Drought; conflicts for resources among others. These challenges have negative effects on livelihoods.

The government has developed policies and strategies aimed at revitalizing ASALS. Some of the policy frameworks put in place include the National Land Policy, the National Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan, the establishment of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the establishment of the Climate Change Secretariat. climate, among others.

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