Wherever there is a tree, there is freshness. 

As the globe marked the International Day of Forests, March 21st, the Strathmore University Environmental and Sustainability Club (SESC), in collaboration with the University of Nairobi Anthropology and Gender Students Association (UNAGSA), Nairobi Rivers Commission, Jijenge Plastics, Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA), and Amali Foundation, came together to plant indigenous fruit trees at the Late John Michuki Memorial Park in Nairobi County.

This was geared towards acknowledging the vital significance of forests within ecosystems, highlighting their beauty and invaluable contribution to biodiversity. The Vice Chairperson of the Nairobi Rivers Commission, Professor Elijah Biama, underscored the necessity for youth and all stakeholders to unite in forest preservation. “There is a need for the youth and every stakeholder  to come together and preserve our forests.” This sentiment resonated as the youth, alongside the multiple organizations, showed up, all striving to contribute to the creation of a greener future.

The Root of the Matter

During the gathering, Professor Biama educated the delegates on the importance of trees, adding that the  presence of trees transforms places into ecosystems that provide abundant oxygen supply. He emphasized that planting indigenous trees is the sole means of acquiring carbon credits, which in turn attracts rainfall, sustaining water bodies, flora, and fauna.. He concluded by calling upon humanity to help improve water quality in order to conserve biodiversity. 

Following this, Kennedy Wangari, Strathmore University Environmental and Sustainability Club President, outlined the club’s commendable sustainable endeavors in the first quarter of 2024. He also shared three action points moving forward. The first point was the policy dialogues on the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA-6) resolutions that will be hosted in Strathmore University starting April. He further highlighted the Sustainability Week that is to be held in the first week of June. One of the key highlights of the week will be a clean up of the Keri River, which flows through  Strathmore University. He also encouraged Nairobi Water to bring as many partners on board during the Sustainability Week to help make the week a success. 

The founder of BroWhoCleans, Victor Mututi, reminded the delegates and the youths on the importance of using social media platforms to spread environmental conservation awareness. He, for instance, sets an example by using social media to organize daily cleans ups every Saturday. So far, Victor has mobilized at least 100 people from different parts of Nairobi to clean up the streets. His call to action was for the youths to join BroWhoCleans and be part of the transformative clean ups.

A representative from Jijenge Plastics, an organization that transforms plastic waste into new and useful products, said their reason for attendance was due to the fact that most plastics often end up in rivers. Jijenge’s main goal is to ensure that the cities, the source of environmental hazards, are green, therefore the need for conversions on conserving trees and forests. According to Jijenge Plastics, there is a need to create the solution at the source of the problem.

University of Nairobi Anthropology and Gender Studies Association(UNAGSA) emphasized on the significance of humanities in recognizing the need for change and incorporating cultural aspects into Forest Conservation processes.

Mr Nyadimo Sebastian from TARDA called upon the youths to actively advocate for governmental change. He called upon Professors and other professionals to help the youth understand the entire conservation process to facilitate their efforts, particularly in places such as the Dandora Dumping Site that needs Government intervention.

A representative from Amali Organisation, a youth-led organization that is keen on empowering the youths towards a better future, stated that the youths need to be aware of their responsibility to  create a conducive environment and work towards a greener environment in Kenya. 

In conclusion, the International Day of Forests united diverse Kenyan organizations to celebrate forests’ significance and humanity’s role in their preservation. Call to action? Youth involvement in environmental sustainability actions to forge a better, and sustainable future for generations to come.  

Article written by: Irene Janet Owiti

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