While global warming remains a major challenge, extreme weather events such as devastating floods and severe droughts have increased the frequency of food insecurity and loss of livelihoods in Kenya. This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster.
Today, the forest landscape in Kenya has shrunk at an alarming rate, from 10 percent of the initial total forest cover to 7.4 percent due to rapid deforestation and degradation of forest ecosystems.
This has exposed local communities to more climate-related disasters.
According to data from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEp), between 2000 and 2010, Kenya lost more than 28,000 hectares of forest cover. Globally, 10 million hectares of forest ecosystems, which account for 12-20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, are lost each year.
The government is making remarkable progress in restoring our forest cover to 10% by 2022. Afforestation and regeneration are essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
According to the report from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, deforestation accounts for 3.6% of our national gross domestic product (GDP) loss, with Kwale, Lamu, Narok, Bomet and Nyandarua counties being deforestation hot spots. .
Notably, the forests of Aberdares, Mau Forest Complex and Mount Kenya are key water towers threatened by rapid deforestation and land degradation. On February 24, 2018, the government imposed a moratorium on logging in all public and community forests, an important step towards environmental conservation. Forest ecosystems play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change. The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) unveiled the Adopt-A-Forest model focused on forest restoration. For decades, forest management and environmental conservation remained a challenge in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa.
Growing demand for agricultural production and population growth have put pressure on conservation efforts, but the world cannot afford to give up now.
To strengthen climate resilience, the government must involve and support the initiatives of local communities, young people and women in reforestation.
We should also improve the use of traditional knowledge in forest restoration, sustainable forest management and explore nature-based solutions to boost climate action.