Replanting Degraded Forests Becoming Communities' Goal in Kenya
Kenya needs to take urgent action to combat degradation of key forests, for the sake of its environment and its economy, experts say.
The country’s forests, ranging from mountain rainforests to savannah woodlands, coastal forests and mangroves, are under pressure due to high demand for land and resources from the country’s growing population.
An estimated 50,000 hectares (200 square miles) of forest is cleared annually, with a consequent yearly loss to the economy of over $19 million, according to a 2014 report by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Ten percent of Kenya’s population live within 5 km (3 miles) of forests and rely on forest resources for their work and lives. The country’s constitution and the economic blueprint Vision 2030 call for boosting the amount of land covered by forest from the current level of 6.9 percent to at least 10 percent.
Clearance of mountain forests, known as “water towers” because of their role in capturing and regulating the flow of more than 75 percent of the country’s surface water, affects river flows and the supply of water to irrigation agriculture.