Main Forest types and size of forests
The county does not have a gazzetted forest; however, there are non-gazzetted forests like Nyangweta, Ritumbe, Ndonyo and Nyansembe forests in Gucha South district, and Keboye hills in Kisii south, Sameta hills in Sameta district, Nyacheki hills in Nyamache district, Igorera and Ibencho hills in Kenyenya, Taracha hill in Kisii central, Intamocha hill in Gucha district and Emborogo forest in Masaba South. The total forest cover is approximated at 228.4 ha.Efforts to have the above forests gazetted need to be made through the forest department in the county and sensitizations of the communities need to be enhanced on protection of forests. The forest cover should be increased from the current 228.4 ha to about 500ha by 2017.
Main Forest products for un-gazetted forests
The main forest products in the county are: Timber, electricity poles, construction poles, firewood, Honey and Medicinal products.
Promotion of Agro-Forestry and Green Economy for:
a) Income generating activities including farm forests
The county is promoting Agro-Forestry for income generating activities through establishment of community tree nurseries in various constituencies. These activities are carried out through the departments of Agriculture, Forestry, NEMA and the Local Authorities in the county.
b) Protection of water catchment areas
Planting of trees along the hill tops through the Ministry of Youth Affairs courtesy of KKV, Forestry, Agriculture and Local Authorities is on-going. Sensitization of the community regarding river bank protection through the cutting of blue gums along rivers is also done by the NGOs and the government departments like Agriculture and Environment.
c) Prevention of soil erosion
Some of the forests on the hilltops have been poorly managed by uncontrolled grazing and cultivation leading to serious soil erosion like in Nyangweta Hills. The Nyangweta forest needs replanting as it was recently burnt down. Sensitization and training of communities on soil conservation methods throughout the county has been an ongoing activity conducted by both the government departments, communities and NGOs
d) Provision of wood fuel and Generation of energy for industries e.g. for Tea Estates
Majority of the people in the county rely on wood fuel for their energy needs. The Tea factories in the county like Eberege tea factory,Tendere tea factory, Kiamokama tea factory and Nyamache tea factory mainly use firewood as a source of energy hence they have been encouraged to source for land to plant trees and to exploit other sources of energy.
(e) Improvement of Soil fertility by growing fertilizer trees
There is need to encourage farmers/communities to grow fertilizer trees in order to improve soil fertility in the county so as to reduce over-reliance of in-organic fertilizers which are harmful to the ecology.
f) Growing of fruit trees for improved nutrition both for Domestic use and surplus for markets
Growing of fruit trees in various parts of the county is an upcoming sector in the county economy. This is mainly attributed to increased yields as a result of improved extension services and use of certified seeds. Farmers are now going into the business with more seriousness. Due to the favourable climatic conditions, the county is the leading producer of bananas, Pineapples, Avocados, passion fruits among other fruits. A banana processing plant is under construction in Kisii.
g) Beautification activities in Towns, highways, schools, homes and other public places.
Beautification activities throughout the county are undertaken by the local Authorities, schools, individuals and corporate community.
h) Animal Feeds production ventures
The county has a high potential of animal feed production ventures due to increase in zero grazing activities as a result of small land holdings, however, they remain untapped hence investors are encouraged to venture in this area.
i) Growing and processing for medicinal purposes/ Value plants and products
Owing to good climatic condition, the county has a high potential for growing of medicinal plants. Medicinal plants have a high demand in the current market due to its affordability compared to conventional medicine.