Achieving and Maintaining 10% Tree Cover by 2022 – Kenya’s Strategic Forestry and Climate Action Initiative

When we plant trees, we plant seed of peace and hope said Wangari Maathai. In Kenya, forest resources are of immense importance for their contribution to economic development, rural livelihoods, and for the environmental and ecosystem services they provide. Forests help support the operations of most key economic sectors, including agriculture, horticulture, tourism, wildlife, and energy.  Much of Kenya’s biodiversity and wildlife resources depend on forests and woodlands, being a major factor in attracting tourism.

Despite the important role that these forests play, Kenya continues to lose about 12,000 hectares of forest each year through deforestation. Major causes or drivers of deforestation and forest degradation include unsustainable fuelwood and charcoal harvesting and production, settlements due to increasing population pressure around forests, infrastructure including roads passing through and  eroding forests, continued increase in demand for wood products and conversion to agriculture both for subsistence and  commercial purposes.

To protect, conserve and ensure sustainable management of  forests, a coordinated approach, incentives for enhancing participation of all stakeholders: government agencies, communities, academia and private sector are required if Kenya is to manage and conserve forests sustainably, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet national targets as set out in the Constitution, Vision 2030, the National Climate Change Policy and Strategy and the Environment and Forest Policy and legislation.

The National Strategy for 10% Tree Cover has been developed to ensure that the country achieves and maintains a minimum of 10% tree cover. The goal of the Strategy is to increase area under forest to 10% and sus­tainably manage natural forest resources for environmental protection and enhanced economic growth. Under the Strategy Kenya needs to plant and protect 1.8 billion seedlings between now and 2022 to achieve the above tree cover.

The Strategy has identified several opportunities, through which the country will implement several national and global commitments with respect to climate change, biodiversity conservation, and land degradation.  The government has committed to restore 5.1 million Ha of degraded landscapes as a contribution to the Africa Forest Landscape Initiative (AFR100), 50% reduction of greenhouse gases from the forest sector by 2030 as part of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to climate change, and to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030 as a commitment to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).


The strategy inculcates a shared responsibility towards addressing climate change impacts and public concerns regarding protection, conservation and sustainable management of forest resources, while enhancing the contribution of the forestry sector towards implementation of the Big 4 Agenda.


In order to attain the 10 per cent tree cover by 2022, partnerships with both state and non-state actors are key in enhancing the forest cover through tree planting and growing initiatives that aim to spur a tree growing culture among communities. In order to achieve the above, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has firmed up the national tree planting and growing campaign, with a passionate appeal to Kenyans and the community at large to support the efforts to increase forest cover and implementation of re-afforestation programs. Through support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kenya, the Ministry has also strengthened policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure alignment with and responsiveness to emerging issues and needs at both national and sub-national levels.

Additionally, UNDP Kenya, through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), is investing close to US$4 Million supporting national efforts towards achieving this reforestation goal. The REDD+ Project is supporting the government of Kenya in its efforts to pursue long-term, transformative development and accelerate sustainable climate resilient economic growth, while slowing the soaring rates of Green House Gas emissions emanating from the forest sector.