Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Environment conservation, the Emotive subject in Kenya. By Dennis Opany

This subject environment conservation ironically is an emotive issue in Kenya. It is a national shame of monumental proportion that a few linchpins are in opposition of Mau restoration and eviction of encroachers.

Having watched our legislators exchange tirades over Mau catchment area, many including myself have realized that some of our legislators are barriers to development in this country.

Kenya’s five main forest areas, namely Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Complex, Mt. Elgon and the Cherangany Hills are currently under threat and thus the urgent need for their preservation.
Kenya’s forest cover has been depleted to less than 3% and some leaders do not realize the impending danger and neither the effects of depleted forest cover. Global climate change to them is a modern populist phrase/ anecdote worth winning a Nobel Prize. Mau catchment area is not only significant to Kenyans but also to the republic of Congo and other countries along river Nile.

Opposing Mau restoration, a senior leader astonished many when he erroneously stated, without compunction, an embarrassing fact about the ability of forests to harvest/harness rainfall. We all know that the stumbling block in the quick implementation of the noble task is hindered by settlement of the displaced, political battles (in my view paranoid) and compensation procedure. Encouraging though is that majority of citizens, attested by outcome of several opinion polls agree that restoration of Mau should precede all other factors.

In any case, benefits accruing from forestation are numerous. They include the following:

• Forests cool air temperature by release of water vapor into the air.
• At day time trees generate oxygen and store carbon dioxide, which helps in purification of air for the benefit of fauna and flora.
• Forest attracts wild life and offer food and protection to them.
• Forests offer a sound barrier against strong accelerating winds.
• Well managed forests supply higher quality water with less impurity than water from other resources. • Some forests raise total water stream, but this is not true for all forests
• Forests help in controlling the floods through absorption of excess flowing water.
• Forest helps in keeping environment beautiful and can be a source of tourist attractions.
• Forests harbor plants and herbs that aid scientists and researchers to invent new medicines.

I propose that the government through KenGen agree on usage of power during off-peak periods in irrigating tree plantations. In this approach, ‘idle’ power is used to pump water for irrigation purposes in the ASALs. Incentives should also be given to those with appreciable forest cover in their areas of residence.

Government should also implement policies that encourage forest plantations and at the same time have stringent and punitive measures for deliberate forest destruction to avert destruction of the environment.

Having realized the effects of global change, the government has taken strategic measures to increasing forest cover in the country in both catchment areas and semi -arid areas. With full implementation of the Mau Task Force Report the future will be certain for future generations. This was well put by Robert Redford, “I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?”


Source- Moi University Website http://www.mu.ac.ke/students/tsa/Research_1/Environment.pdf

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