City Park to be managed as a public forest – Tobiko

City Park in Nairobi City will now be managed as a public forest for the benefit of the general public, the purpose for which the forest was given up by a clan in the year 1903. Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko announced this today when he held an assessment visit at the Park.

“The Kenya Forest Service will spearhead a roadmap to guide recovery, reclamation, restoration and protection of the Park in collaboration with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, National Museums of Kenya and other agencies in my ministry,” said the CS. Accompanying the CS were the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau, CEOs of Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the National Museums of Kenya.

Pio Gama Pinto’s grave at City Park

KFS will provide personnel and necessary tools for management of the Park. Legal mechanisms will also be developed to protect it and maintain it as a people’s park. The Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau noted that Service has no limitations in partnerships in forest conservation as long as they remain within the provisions of the Law. He said the Service appreciates inputs by various entities in the conservation of City Park noting that City Park is a special forest with great historical sites.

In the new arrangement, Friends of City Park, a conservation group, will continue to play a central role in the Park’s management. Tobiko noted that sections of the City Park Forest had been allocated to certain entities against the common good. “How can a private entity grab land donated for public good, and take it up without shame? How can one sleep in good conscience having grabbed cemetery land where World War heroes are buried? This cannot be allowed to continue and that’s why I am here today,” said the CS.

Tobiko said that his Ministry was implementing a Presidential directive that was made during the World Environment Day 2020 on matters environment, climate change and urban forestry.

“There will be sustained robust action on the part of Government to reclaim, restore and conserve public open spaces, and nature reserves” he said. Investigations to establish the circumstances under which public land was allocated to individuals and private entities in disregard to the essential services these green spaces provide to the general public is ongoing, he added. He said that the current restoration of green spaces will go beyond the Nairobi Central Business District.

The CS also added that the Ministry in collaboration with other Government agencies will, after completion of City Park restoration, move to Ngong Road Forest. The public forest covering 7,000 Ha, has more than 6,000 Ha enriching individuals and corporate entities according to Tobiko.

Tobiko noted that the process of forest reclamation is not intended to settle political scores.

“We are doing this because it is the right thing to do. It is to correct an injustice that has been committed to Kenyans for too long,” opined the CS.

City Park Forest is situated in the Parklands area of Nairobi, Westlands sub-county. It is surrounded by Wangari Maathai Road, Thika Road, Pangani area, Muthaiga residential area and Limuru Road opposite Aga Khan Hospital. The Park is more than 60 hectares & it is about three times the size of the Nairobi Arboretum.

There are five tree nurseries. There is also an indigenous forest along the riparian zone of the river which originates from Kibagare area, near Kangemi. There is a recreation area where people rest and groups also meet. Groups of 10-100 people pay Kshs. 3,000 to meet in the park while one with over 100 members pays Ksh.4000. Photography is charged Kshs. 3,000 while video shooting is charged at Kshs. 5,000.

There are two cemeteries each covering 5 ha. The cemeteries were used by the Catholic and Protestants. There are also burial sites for the Jewish community, Common Wealth soldiers and a public cemetery. The 2nd Vice President of the Republic of Kenya Hon. Joseph Murumbi together with his wife are also buried within the park where his artifacts are displayed. Pio Gama Pinto is also buried in the park.

The popular City market is also part of the park. A new market is under construction and the area where the current market stands will be converted into a parking area. There is also a restaurant, the Safari Bowling Green.

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