More needed to conserve threatened environment

World Desertification Day, commemorated every June 17, provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how man-made, often destructive activities, impact negatively on the environment.

As a consequence, global warming has led to erratic weather patterns; little rainfall, long spells of drought and the resultant food insecurity which, today, has gripped the country.

Water catchment areas around the Mau forest, Mount Kenya region; the Aberdares and Cherengany hills have over the years been destroyed through rampant deforestation and encroachment on forest land. Over 107,000 hectares of forest, representing 25 percent of the Mau forest, have been destroyed in the past 20 years.

The negative effects are evident. Rivers out of the Mau are drying up alarmingly and this has affected not just wildlife, but human life, increasing conflict between the two over scarce resources.

Dealing with encroachment on the Mau has been a thorny issue over the years. While some leaders favour outright evictions, there are those who call for caution, sometimes politicising the issue without actually tackling the problem.

This electoral cycle, the Mau issue is likely to surface again, but beyond the political rhetoric, there is the urgent need to save the environment. Raising our forest cover is not an option; it is something we must do now for posterity. Kenya's current forest cover is estimated to stand at 6 per cent of the total land area, way below the universally recommended 10 per cent.

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