Kenyan youth want the government to suspend the excessive logging currently occurring around the Mount Kenya region. They are concerned over the drying up of rivers in the Aberdare and the Mount Kenya forests. An increased number of trucks ferrying the wood from the forests have increased fear among the young conservationists. Many are now taking initiatives to make the public aware of what’s happening and also call the relevant stakeholders into action.
“It takes a lot of blue to stay green!” says Elizabeth Wathuti, founder of GGI Kenya, “ The mount Kenya ecosystem, a leading water catchment area in Kenya, that provides water directly to over two million people has most of its rivers currently dry.” She points out River Thegu, a river supposed to be flowing from Mount Kenya, now dried up. “It was previously known for its booming trout population, breathtaking scenery, ice cold water as well as a home for both flora and fauna. What is left now? It is sadly a neglected scenery, full of pebbles. ”
As conservationists continue to raise their concerns about this matter, the Timber Manufacturing Association has threatened to sue them for defamation, since they have the proper documents by the KFS to harvest the trees. The Kenya Forest Service, on the other hand, has denied that there’s illegal logging happening. It is also worth noting that the Kenya Forest Service earned 37 million shillings from the sale of trees.
According to recent data by the World Meteorological Organization, 2017 was the hottest year among the three hottest years on record. Global warming is a reality but it seems that the leaders of the world do not recognize this. For many years, Kenyans have helplessly witnessed the Mount Kenya glaciers diminishing and the rivers drying up, and even as there are efforts being made to plant trees, logging especially around water towers has become rampant.
Wanjuhi Njoroge, President of Nelig Group started a social media campaign (#SaveMtKenyaForest) and is demanding action from the government and all the concerned authorities. She wants the government to ban harvesting, review the acts, carry out audits on the logging licenses and prepare seedlings for planting in the next season.
“We are staring at the worst water shortage ever in the history of Kenya, yet the best @KeForestService can do is deny and issue threats.” She says in one of her tweets, @UKenyatta @JudiWakhungu suspend the harvesting and carry out an audit.”
This has sparked up a conversation with conservationists raising awareness on the plight of bird and animal species that are at risk.
Environmental bloggers have not been left behind. Wangechi Kiongo, the UNCCD Land for Life Youth Social Media Activist 2017, has posed the question, “Why the hell would we reduce where we have less?”
To add to this conversation, Claire Nasike, the 3rd recipient of the Wangari Maathai scholarship and Founder of the Hummingbird foundation, recognizes a healthy environment as a basic human right. “If it is stated in our constitution [that every Kenyan has a right to clean and healthy environment], then why do we have so much environmental degradation happening in Kenya?” She asks, then goes on to say, “Our Forests are disappearing in a blink of an eye.”
She urges environmentalists not just to condemn the degradation, but to act. The youths are making suggestions to help quench the heated dispute between the loggers and the conservationists.
“Can we start by having a national tree planting day and have people provided with trees to plant? Even if we do 500k trees per county, more than 20m trees will be planted.” Says Isaac Murage, a youth in Nairobi.
It is clear that these youths are not fighting the government or the institutions; they only want to safeguard the future of this nation.
What happens if we do nothing?
We need to protect the environment for the future generations. The effects might not be seen right now, and many might think that these are normal weather changes but climate change is a reality affecting us now, and it’ll be worse for our offspring.
If we don’t act now, in future we will be expecting;
- frequent, longer and more intense droughts, which means more food insecurity and more water shortages.
- more numbers of endangered and extinct species which will translate to losses of income through tourism
- sea level rising which will translate to human population near the coast getting displaced
- frequent heat waves
- change in precipitation patterns, which will further impact agriculture, and
- more natural catastrophes such as hurricanes and typhoons.
Fortunately, we have the time to act before it is too late. The youth are calling out to the government, the Ministry of Environment, the Kenya Forest Service and potential donors to look into this matter and stop the logging before its too late.