UN warns that Kenya is in danger of losing its largest forest ecosystem
Kenya stands to lose $300 million in revenue from tea, tourism and energy if the forest of the country’s Mau Complex continues to be degraded and destroyed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned today.
“For the past few years UNEP has been documenting for the Kenyan Government and the people of Kenya the continued destruction and erosion of this vital ecosystem. It has reached a point where if no measures are taken, Kenya will lose one of its fundamental assets,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.
UNEP says the Mau Complex, which is the country’s largest forest ecosystem, is an asset of national importance that supports key economic sectors, including energy, tourism, agriculture and water supply, and is also the single most important water catchment area in the Rift Valley and western Kenya.
“The excisions and the widespread encroachments have led to the destruction of nearly a quarter of the Mau Complex area over the last 15 years. Such an extensive and ongoing destruction of a key natural asset for the country is nothing less than a national emergency,” said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
A forum, convened this week by the Government, highlighted the need to restore the forest of the Mau Complex. A high-level task force was established to address encroachments into the forests.
A new enforcement structure will also be set up to tackle rampant illegal logging and charcoal making in the area.