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Encroachment to ecosystem a threat to community livelihoods

OPINION
By Jackson Bambo | July 27th 2018
Narok County Commissoner George Natembeya (right) with Mau Forest operation Commander Dickson Ritan showing Maasai Mau forest map at his office.PHOTO:ROBERT KIPLAGAT

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyan population is on the upward trajectory while important natural resources like forests that are life support systems are under immense pressure and threats.

Under this reality the Constitution provides for a 10 per cent forest cover which currently stands at approximately 7 per cent way below our constitutional obligation. There are five major water towers (Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mau Complex, Cherangani and Elgon) in this great country of Kenya and they supply water to the entire Kenyan population and also sustain the fragile Eco-system in those areas. Mau Forest complex for instance supply water beyond the Kenyan borders and is considered a biodiversity hotspot.

Unfortunately, despite their critical socio-economic and ecological functions these ecosystems are under immense pressure from deforestation, encroachment and illegal logging.

It is therefore imperative that for these critical ecosystems to continue offering services, their protection and restoration should be a great priority. The current trend in the country where pressure from encroachment to ecosystem is a reality poses a great threat to community livelihoods.

The Mau Complex comprises the largest forested area in Kenya (over 400,000 hectares) and is the most important water catchment for Lakes Victoria, Nakuru, Mara, Turkana, Baringo and Natron and the source of rivers that supports some of the most important national wildlife reserves including the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park.

The Mau Task Force established in 2009 and whose report was approved by the parliament in 2010 confirmed that the biodiversity of the Mau Forests Complex is under serious threat and identified Eburu, Eastern Mau; Trans Mara, South West Mau, and lower parts of Western Mau; and the Central area of Mau Forests Complex as biodiversity hotspots in the Mau Forests Complex.

Based on these finding the Task Force recommended that all biodiversity hotspots and critical water catchments that are presently settled should be repossessed, restored and the settlers moved to other less sensitive areas; and that all critical water catchments should be restored using enrichment planting, natural regeneration and other appropriate means.

Political interference to the process of restoration is a disgrace to this country and the entire region.

Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) jointly with The East Wild Life Society (EAWLS) support all efforts geared towards restoration of Mau forest and other critical water towers, condemn political utterances from politicians opposed to restoration of Mau forest.

 

The two organisations also call upon the government to implement the recommendations of the report by the Forest Resources Management and Logging activities in Kenya Task

“We call upon the ministry of environment and forestry to establish and facilitate a multi-stakeholders dialogue forum (include Ministry of Environment and forestry, National treasury, Ministry of Lands, National Land Commission, County Governments and conservation NGOs to  unlock the issues and seek possible solutions”

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