Kenyan President William Ruto, who has set a goal to plant 15 billion trees in just a decade, said it’s part of an overall plan to fight desertification, reduce his country’s carbon footprint and help lower global emissions.
“We want to position Africa as the source of the solution to climate change,” he said in an interview last week at the COP27 climate talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. “Not just as a victim.”
Ruto announced in a speech in Kenya last month that he’s looking to leverage private sector and government financing to enact the tree-planting plan and will recruit 2,700 forest rangers and 600 officers for the initiative.
The 55-year-old president, who earned a doctorate in plant ecology in 2018, wrote his thesis on land use changes, and touts forestation as an important solution to slowing climate change because trees can capture and store warming gases. Kenya’s leader will soon appoint a Climate Change Council, which will oversee the carbon credit program and the work needed to green 10.6 million hectares of land. Ruto said in October he is seeking to ultimately cover 30% of Kenya with trees around the start of the next decade — compared with the country’s previously stated goal to reach 10%.