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Kenya risks losing funds over forests

ROUND TABLE
By | July 21st 2009

By Ally Jamah

Take action against destruction of forests or risk losing foreign revenue in carbon trade, experts have said.

An international conference bringing together legislators, economists and scientists has warned that depleting forest cover will prevent Kenya from earning billions of shillings soon to be paid out to states with substantial forest cover.

The International Commission on Land Use Change and Ecosystems concluded its sittings on Monday at the Unep headquarters in Nairobi.

Rich industrial countries are expected to pay billions of shillings for polluting the atmosphere and causing climate change. Countries with large forest cover are expected to gain from the initiative.

Many countries in Africa keenly await the programme to be approved in December at the Copenhagen climate change talks.

Greenhouse gases

Kenya has only two per cent of its total area covered by forest but experts say further destruction will completely rule out the country out from the payments because it lacks enough forests to absorb greenhouse gases.

Kenya has recorded one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.

The extensive forest destruction has been blamed on the lack of "economic value given to natural capital" such as generating rainfall, flood control, storing carbon and provide clean air and water.

"At the moment, when timber or agricultural commodities are traded, no economic price is put on these critical services of the ecosystem," said the chairman of the commission Ian Johnson.

Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai who was present blamed the drastic weather changes to careless cutting of trees and ignorance of proper forest management.

"We are extracting so much from the planet that one day she is going to say: ‘I have no more to give’," she said.

The experts also warned that the continued degradation would increase poverty in Kenya.

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