U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on Saturday pledged to boost Kenya’s efforts in conserving the environment.Speaking to journalists in Nairobi during a tour of Kenya’s Karura forest where she planted a tree, Jackson said the forest is part of Washington’s efforts to support the East African nation’s environmental programs.
"The U. S. support of the Karura forest is part of our assistance to Kenya’s efforts to conserve the environment through forest conservation," said Jackson, who is leading the U. S. delegation to participate in the UNEP governing council conference at its Nairobi’s headquarters on Feb. 18-22.
The Karura forest has been the target of land speculators and timber loggers who rendered it one of the most environmental degraded forests in the country.
The public has shunned the once vibrant recreation park due to high levels of insecurity in the area.The forest which consists of a waterfall and is home to one of Kenya’s largest concentration of bird species will officially to be reopened next week after years of closure.
The 1,000 hectares forest located in Nairobi is one of three forests located in Nairobi."The forest being one of the few urban forests in the world will be developed into tourism attraction with features including a 4 km nature trail," said Karanja Njoroge, the executive director of Green Belt Movement who is also the vice chairman of the Friends of Karura Forest.
The U. S. government is also supporting the Eastern Africa Environment Enforcement Network which brings together environmental stakeholders including Kenya’s environmental network and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) which seeks to increase Kenya’s forest cover which stands at less than two per cent compared to the UN recommended levels of 10 per cent."The U.S. government together with greenbelt movement and the friends of Karura forest will help restore the forest to its former status as environment conservation site," said U. S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger.
The U.S. government has already given a grant of seven million U.S. dollars to help rehabilitate the Mau forest which has been under threat from both forest loggers and squatters who invaded the forest to convert the forest into agricultural land."The Greenbelt Movement also received two million dollars for a two year program to rehabilitate the Aberdare forest," said Karanja.
Report Courtesy of Coastweek/Xinhua