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    President Kenyatta launched Kenya's national tree planting day with an appeal to the nation to plant more trees, instead of burning them.

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    President Kenyatta launched Kenya's national tree planting day with an appeal to the nation to plant more trees, instead of burning them. The President planted the first three of the day at a ceremony in Gatundu on Friday (14 May). The tree planting project is an attempt to replace as much as possible of the ten million Kenyan shillings (just over half a million sterling) worth of timber destroyed in forest fires last year.

    SYNOPSIS: Kenya's national tree planting day was opened in the town of Gatundu on Friday at a special ceremony presided over by President Kenyatta. The day has assumed great importance because of the high loss of timber through forest fires. Last year, 10 million Kenyan shillings worth of timber was destroyed. Before the big day, the government emphasised that ceremonies like this one should be carried out throughout the country.

    Present at the ceremony was the Minister of National Resources, Mr. Omamo. It was his department that organised the nation-wide tree planting project. This, he said, would contribute towards the preservation and generation of forests. But the main statement was made by President Kenyatta. Referring to the forest fires that took a heavy toll last year, he urged Kenyans to follow his example and plant trees, instead of burning them.

    After the speeches, the President and his party began the ceremony itself by planting a tress.

    There was a gay atmosphere while the President planted the first tree, belying the seriousness of the project. To make sure there was no shortage of trees to plant all over the country. trees were provided at all Forest Department nurseries.

    When the tree had been planted, President Kenyatta began to sprinkle soil over the roots. He was followed by mama Ngina Kenyatta, and other dignitaries.

    A plaque was unveiled to commemorate the occasion. But this is not an isolated attempt to remedy the timber problem. later in the year the President will inaugurate a rural afforestation scheme, encouraging farmers to plant trees or small woodlots in their farms or plots. Again, the Ministry of National Resources will ???e providing an extension service. In each case, members of Parliament go back to their constituencies to direct the tree-planting ceremonies. Only in this way, the Ministry said, can the importance of the scheme be driven home to everybody.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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    Available on request
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