Environment

ENVIRONMENT

Forests, Kenya's great 'active' resource

Why we must not only protect them 'on principle'

05-06-2023 by Leni Frau

In World Environment Week, which is also being celebrated by the International Days of Meetings in Nairobi as part of the annual Un Habitat conference, the importance of Kenya's forests, not only for the environment, but also for the entire circular economy that results from the protection and sustainable and all-encompassing use of its land, is increasingly highlighted.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP), together with the Kenyan government, has positioned Kenya among the pioneer countries aiming to focus development plans on natural resources.
The report states that forests provide value 'not only from the production of various woody and non-woody forest products, but also from a range of regulating ecosystem services that provide insurance value to several key economic sectors'.
This is the key that should (and must) be touched, not only in Africa: environmentalism 'on principle' and an end in itself is doing more damage than anything else. Virtually hugging a tree, just before someone cuts it down, serves little purpose. Keeping it alive by explaining what actual resources it can give to its custodians, on the other hand, is essential, creates empathy and can really solve problems.
Forests produce 'direct economic value for citizens', the UNEP report states. "The negative effect of deforestation on the economy, due to the reduction of regulating services, is more than 2.8 times the cash income of deforestation.
Probably the most important of these regulation services is water storage. During the rainy seasons, forests store water and then release it slowly during the dry seasons, giving them the nickname 'water towers'.
Water regulation affects many sectors of the economy, including energy resources, agriculture, health and industry. In 2010, reduced river flows in Kenya, attributable to deforestation, decreased agricultural water supply and thus agricultural production.
"Reduced water quality due to siltation and elevated nutrient levels runoff from degraded soils into freshwater systems has reduced fish catches in inland waters and increased the cost of treating water for drinking," the report states.
Well-managed upland forest cover has also been linked to a reduction in the prevalence of malaria and other diseases, saving the government millions in health costs.
Preserving forests in a knowledgeable manner, creating the conditions for them to be active resources, not just being nature lovers and seeing them as a pretty picture to look at and a breath of fresh air for an asthmatic planet, that is what is needed. And Kenya has all the credentials to be the driving force behind this vision.

TAGS: foresteambienteprotezione

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by redazione

by Leni Frau

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