As Kenya seeks to increase its forest cover to 10 per cent by 2022, Kipini Conservancy, a biodiversity hotspot at the Coast, is battling illegal logging, which has put lives of its dependents at risk.
People living around the conservancy depend on the forest reserve for grazing, fuelwood, building materials and food.
The side-effects of illegal logging targeting indigenous trees do not only affect the human population but also pose a greater risk to wild animals such as buffalos, zebras, elephants, lions, water bucks, hippos, baboons, monkeys, water bush, topi, dik dik, and warthogs.
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At risk also include income from carbon credits. Forests such as Kipini Conservancy are some of the most important solutions to addressing effects of climate change. Globally, approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, one-third of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year.
The ongoing degradation in Kipini is likely to deny the country the opportunity to benefit from the carbon credit scheme. The conservancy is a catchment area for important water bodies such as Lake Kenyatta located in Mpeketoni in Lamu County. The lake is home to hippos, birds, water snails, and other wildlife. Organised criminals target the indigenous tree species which are cut down, split into logs, and then timber. Lorries, motorbikes, and bicycles are used to ferry the timber out of the conservancy.
There is fear that tourism, social, and other communal activities depending on the conservancy might be wiped out if authorities do not swing into action.
The intervention from the Ministry of Environment and the Kenya Forest Service, for instance, will save the trees from destruction and in the end feed into the government’s agenda of increasing forest cover from the current seven per cent to 10 per cent by 2022.
Under the presidential directive, the constitutional target of 10 per cent national tree cover should be achieved by 2022 through, among other initiatives, the revival of chiefs’ tree nurseries with technical support of Kenya Forest Service and allocation of 10 per cent Corporate Social Responsibility to tree growing by the private sector.
To attain the 10 per cent tree cover, partnerships with State and non-State actors are key to spur a tree growing culture among communities.