This is one of the points made in an article by Aggrey Kere, networking and partnerships officer of Kenya’s Mother Earth Network. The Network has planted thousands of trees across the country through activities in schools, churches and urban slums. Click below to read the article.
Kenya is one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. The country’s economy has a very strong dependence on the natural environment and, in particular, forest resources, yet it is facing a number of pressing economic, environmental and social challenges much of which is endemic.
Kenya has also recorded significant damage to its ecosystem in the last several decades following unsustainable use and exploitation of natural resources.
Kenya is highly vulnerable to drought. Drought is the single most important climate-related natural hazard impacting the country from time to time. Overall, Kenya is reported to lose 54,000 hectares to deforestation and forest degradation.
The city’s and indeed the country’s natural land base is suffering from unprecedented environmental degradation.
Many factors have contributed to this, including overgrazing, illegal logging to meet huge demands for fuel wood, charcoal, carving, climate change, floods, soil erosion, landslide and natural disaster. In addition to clearing of land for human settlement and agriculture, farming is done in increasing densities to meet an ever-rising demand for dietary protein, which is one of the principal causes of loss of vegetative cover and thus regional desertification.
It is, therefore, imperative to work to resolve these environmental problems. Mother Earth Network is moving the masses through interfaith strategies to reverse these trends thereby achieving sustainable development.
Mother Earth Network’s core activity is tree planting and the working approach is interfaith participatory and all inclusive interventions that encourage engagements to promote biodiversity protection. This is skilfully done, backed by relevant stakeholders and collaborators, motivated by right information on current and emerging issues. The team icon and chairman of Mother Earth Network is Father Hermann Borg, a Franciscan who championed a significant role in mitigating climate change by planting one million trees in lower Subukia in the past 20 years.
Forestry underpins most sectors, including agriculture, horticulture, tourism, wildlife and the energy. Since the country has only 3.6 million hectares of forest lands or 5.6% of its land under forests, Mother Earth Network has made commitments to protect all forests including the five major water towers (Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mau, Cherengani and Mt. Elgon) in order to increase the forest cover to 10% through an aggressive afforestation, reforestation and restoration programmes.
This is in line with Vision 2030, the constitution, forest policy, policy on the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) and Sustainable Development Goals.
Mother Earth Network has identified the forestry sector as a strong vehicle for supporting realisation of national climate change mitigation and adaptation. The contribution of the forestry sector is recognised mostly in the provision of the following goods and services:
- Water conservation, essential for human and wildlife, agriculture and industry.
- Help protect and enrich soils, and reduce the severity of floods and landslides.
- Provide local communities with building materials, fodder, firewood, fruits, gum and resins, medicine and sacred sites. In some rural areas forests contribute over 75% of the cash income and provide almost all of household energy requirements.
- Protect biodiversity and shelter to at least half of the world’s known plant and animal species. This is a genetic resource of unknown value that could advance medicine, food production and materials development. Many pollinator and predators of agriculture pests inhabit forests at some point in their life cycles.
- Reduce poverty by providing forest-related activities and employment to local communities.
- Provide food security through use of non-wood forest product (wild fruits, meat, vegetables, herbal medicine etc).
- Provide wood, including timber, poles and paper.
- Moderate climate change and help slow down human-induced climate change such as global warming.
According to some studies, experts argue that there is conclusive evidence showing people living in greener environments displayed fewer signs of mental problems, like depression.
It is within the above context that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, Mother Earth Network through its conservation programme rehabilitates degraded forest areas through protection for natural regeneration and enrichment planting.