Lobby condemns unregulated charcoal burning, encroachment in Mau forest
Jul. 13, 2016, 6:00 am | By Rita Damary
Kenya Forests Working Group has condemned the encroachment of Mau Forest.
The KFWG coordinator Jackson Bambo said unregulated charcoal burning, conversion of forest land to agricultural use and weak government policies have been major causes of deforestation in Mau.
“Kenya is already water scarce and facing the difficulties with a growing population and climate change. We cannot afford to lose one square foot of forest cover," he said during a sensitization program with the local communities neighboring the largest water tower.
Bambo said Kenya releases about 14 million tons of Carbon dioxide per year mainly from deforestation and forest degradation activities of about 50,000 hectares per year.
Bambo said that most immediate threats to the Mau forest have been linked to the rapidly increasing population numbers, agricultural expansion, unsustainable wood utilization levels, high energy demand, and over-grazing among others.
“Uncontrolled harvesting of trees in the forest for firewood and charcoal, weak government policies have had serious consequences tower as its ecosystem has socio-economic benefits for the local community, country and East Africa,” said the lobby’s coordinator.
He said that much of Kenya’s biodiversity and wildlife resources depend on forests, woodlands and dry land forest, being a major factor in attracting foreign tourism.
“A large rural population depends on woodland and bush resources to provide firewood, charcoal and other forest products which are critical to rural livelihoods” he said.
The water tower has the largest groundwater reservoir of which the 12 rivers feed including river Njoro, Makalia, Mara and Nderit, which drain into Lake Victoria.
The lakes around which tourism is built such as lakes Nakuru, Elementaita, Baringo and Bogoria, which also benefit from the water tower, have previously suffered the impact of its destruction.
“To curb the situation, International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) and the East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) have managed to sensitize and widen stakeholders’ engagement to help curb conversion of forest land to agricultural land, charcoal burning and settlement among others,” said the Bambo.
“I urge the private sector to engage the communities neighboring forests in an international initiative aimed at keeping trees standing. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+),” he said.
He said that the partnership will promote sustainable utilization of forests by promoting efficiency and energy utilization.
“The program will also help improve governance in the forest sector by strengthening national capacity for Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG), advocacy and awareness and enhance carbon stocks through afforestation/ reforestation addressing the fire problems
The plantation resources make a substantial contribution to economic development in Kenya and are an import source of raw materials for economic development in the wider region.