Uhuru’s Madaraka Day Speech: Was Kenya’s Forest at 6.99% In 2013?

By Alphonce Wadenya

Wednesday, June 1 marked Uhuru Kenyatta’s last Madaraka Day as president. He used this day to outline his administration’s achievements. Amongst them was increasing forest cover from 6.99% in 2013.

“With your mandate, we have planted 1.34 billion trees, moving our forest cover from 6.99 percent in 2013 to 8.83 percent in 2022, and our tree cover to 12.3 percent, well over the 10% envisaged in our constitution and eight years ahead of the target date of the year 2030,” he declared.

Background

The figure 6.99% comes from the National Forest Resources Assessment and Mapping report, 2013. This report was carried out based on data from 2010.

For that year, Kenya’s forest cover was at 4.18 million Ha which represented 6.99% of its territory. Various government agencies have cited this report’s findings, all indicating that it represents the situation in 2010. 

Piga Firimbi looked into this claim and others on single-parent households and GDP growth

Verification

The Environmental and Natural Resource Governance in Kenya report clarifies that the figure, 6.99% was arrived at based on 2010 satellite imagery, ground-truthing and sampling of inventory data collection.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s (2020)report revealed that in 2013; forest cover stood at slightly above 5.60 %. The outcome of this report lowered the 2010 gains below 6.60% but went on to indicate that forest cover was 5.90% in 2018 and left gaps in the years 2016 and 2017. See the screen grab below.

The president launched the National Forest Resources Assessment Report 2021, Kenya on May 27, 2022, 2022. This report backed up the rest of his announcements on tree coverage. But even this report by the Kenya Forest Service established that the 6.99% results reflected the country’s state 3 years before president Uhuru came into power in 2013. 

The figures 5.9, 7, 7.29 and 8.83% from the new report represent forest cover for the years 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively under his administration.

Verdict

President Uhuru’s claim that forest cover increased from 6.99% in 2013 is FALSE.

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