Protecting Mau Forest in Kenya's
From: United Nations Environment Programme
Published July 18, 2008
Nairobi, July 2008-Kenya stands to lose a nature-based economic
asset worth over US $300 million alone to the tea, tourism and
energy sectors if the forest of the Mau Complex continues to be
degraded and destroyed, the UN Environment Programme said today.
The Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, announced this week
that the Kenyan government is taking steps to combat the
destruction of the largest forest ecosystem in Kenya.
The Mau Complex is not only an asset of national importance that
supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley and western Kenya,
including energy, tourism, agriculture and water supply, but it is
also the single most important water catchment in the Rift Valley
and western Kenya.
"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," warned Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister convened a multi-stakeholder
forum to collect information to determine a way forward for
protection of the Mau Complex.
"The excisions and the widespread encroachments have led to the
destruction of nearly a quarter the Mau Complex area over the last
15 years. Such an extensive and on-going destruction of a key
natural asset for the country is nothing less than a national
emergency," said the Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The forum highlighted the need to restore the forest of the Mau
Complex. Based on the forum discussions, 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 Mau Complex.
"We are looking at restoring the largest 'water tower' of this
country and all the services it provides to the nation. We are
looking at securing the livelihood's of millions of people who
depend directly and indirectly on the Mau Forests Complex," said
the Prime Minister.