A two day national conference held and organized annually by the Forestry Society of Kenya (FSK) to discuss the future of the forest sector in the country kicked off today at Golf Hotel, Kakamega.

The conference opened by the Chief Conservator of Forests Mr. Julius Kamau representing the Principal Secretary for Environment and Forestry Ms. Betty Maina, will also discuss Forest research, milestones and opportunities, Local policies and legislations as well as International policies, commitments and achievements among other essential issues.

Host CECM for Water, Environment and Natural resources Mr. Baraza Wangwe who represented Kakamega County Governor H.E. FCPA Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya said the county government is in the process of inventorying all county natural resources and ecosystems in a bid to conserve and preserve this important resource. “We have also intensified the efforts to fence off Kakamega forest in collaboration with various partners to prevent any further destruction of our only remaining tropical rain forest in the country,” he said. Mr. Wangwe added that the executive is working closely with the county assembly on environmental conservation issues, also as a pillar under the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) blue print. H.E. Governor Oparanya is the chairperson of the LREB. The CECM also used the platform to launch Kakamega County’s greening programme where the county government targets to plant 5 million trees in schools, riparian lands and water catchment areas among others across the county.

CECM for Trade, Tourism & Industrialization Mr. Kassim Were on his part said the county has partnered with the Kenya Forest Service to conserve and preserve Kakamega forest. He also announced that his ministry is venturing into eco-tourism to open up the county for both local and international tourism.

Chief Conservator Mr. Julius Kamau revealed that the need to expand agricultural (farming) activities and other human activities posed a permanent threat to the existence of forests in the country. He urged youths to enrol for courses in forestry now being offered in both public and private institutions. Other institutions that are represented at the conference are Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forests Service, Nema, WARMA, NGOs’ and Universities among others.

In attendance also was Vihiga County CECM for Environment & Natural resources Prof. Inonda Mwanje, the National Chairperson of the Forests Service of Kenya Mr. Jorum Kagombe, Kenya Forest Research Institute Director Jackson Mulatya among others.