Small actions can help prevent global warming, but our best efforts are coordinated on a larger scale with the support of governments. A good example of this happened in Kenya, where the first National Tree Planting Day was celebrated on November 13. As the name suggests, this special holiday brings together all Kenyans with the aim of planting 100 million trees. This is just the first step in the Kenyan government's plan to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years.
To achieve the objectives of this first event, leaders asked all citizens to plant at least two trees on their land. In addition to freeing up people's time by creating national holidays, 150 million seeds were planted in nurseries across the country. Kenyan President William Ruto wrote on Twitter that "environmental conservation is the most important collective responsibility of our time."
Because the holiday was announced a week before the holiday, many people don't know where to get seeds or if they will find a place to plant them in time. However, the number of people involved in the game was enormous. The Guardian reported that the forests surrounding the city of Nairobi are teeming with life. Journalist Caroline Kimeu wrote: “Families, environmental groups, students, government officers and forest rangers plodded through muddy grounds in the Ngong forest with saplings in hand." Cyclists also travelled through various streets and stopped to plant trees along the way.
To document tree-planting projects, the government created an app called JazaMiti (meaning “collecting trees” in Swahili). There, Kenyans can find real-time updates on tree planting in the country, information on which species are best suited to local ecosystems, and the locations of nearby trees. Users are also asked to register their plants, which are checked every four months of the year. The person who plants the most trees will receive the “Best Tree” prize.
But despite the positive response to these efforts, residents of the region have asked the government not to approve these efforts. Recently, Ruto lifted a six-year ban on logging, allowing the felling of old trees for commercial purposes. Environmental groups have expressed concern about increasing illegal logging in the region. However, tree planting during the holidays has recently brought a glimmer of hope to the country following extreme weather conditions. “The environment is everyone’s responsibility,” said environmental activist Elizabeth Wathuti. “Everyone has to contribute.” “It’s amazing to see so many people asking where they can plant a tree or get seedlings. “It shows that more and more people are starting to take conservation issues seriously, and having a national tree-planting celebration demonstrates good policy and good purpose.”