On Monday, people across Kenya took part in the country’s first national tree-planting holiday. The holiday was created by Kenya’s president, William Ruto, to encourage people to plant trees as part of a plan to fight the climate crisis.
Kenya is famous for its beautiful forests and wildlife. But large areas of Kenya’s forests have been cut down, either for the wood, to clear the land for farming, or both. And those trees would normally help absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that’s a major cause of the climate crisis.
Currently, just 7% of Kenya is covered by trees. Mr. Ruto has a goal of planting 15 billion trees by 2032. He hopes that will help Kenya cover 30% of its land with trees.
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The government says planting trees will reduce pollution, and help protect the country’s food and water supply. Kenya has been seriously affected by the climate crisis. The country has been hit by a severe drought, and the area’s rain patterns have been changing for the worse.
In early November, to help get Kenya’s massive tree-planting effort started, the government declared November 13 a holiday – National Tree Growing Day. To prepare for the day, the government got 150 million seedlings (young trees) ready for planting.
The government created a special app to help organize the tree planting. The app is called JazaMiti, which means “fill with trees” in Swahili. The app helps people collect seedlings, find places to plant, and record their efforts. The app will also help the government track how many trees have been planted in different areas around the country.
On Monday, people all over Kenya turned out in large numbers to take part in the holiday. In the capital, Nairobi, hundreds of people joined in, even though it was raining. Government leaders led planting efforts in different parts of the country. Workers, students, families, and other groups showed up to take part.
Mr. Ruto took part in a tree-planting event in Kiu Wetland in southern Kenya. “We will continue to protect our environment and ensure we leave behind a nation that the future generation will be proud of,” he said.
It’s not yet clear how many trees were actually planted. But the government had a goal of planting 100 million trees on Monday, and several hundred million more before the end of December.
Elizabeth Wathuti, who works to protect the environment, was very happy about the support Kenyans showed for tree planting. But she pointed out that it would be very important to continue to take care of the trees as they grow. “Tree planting is just the beginning,” she said.
Though most Kenyans supported the event, some people were upset because the holiday was announced too late for them to be able to take part.
Still others have criticized the government for a decision Mr. Ruto made earlier this year. The country had a ban on cutting down older trees, and Mr. Ruto ended that ban.
Even so, many people were very excited about the tree-planting holiday. Some hope that it will happen every year.
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