Author: eawls

Kenya Reviews Forest Policy

Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry has initiated a review of the country’s National Forest Policy with a view to amending the existing Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.

Subsequently, the East African Wild Life Society under the auspices of the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kenya office,  convened two multi-stakeholder virtual meetings.

The forums, held on 22nd and 24th June 2020, brought together stakeholders in the forest, wildlife and water sub-sectors at county and national levels.

Some of the issues raised in the two meetings included:
• A disconnect between the objectives outlined in the National Forest Policy 2020 document and the actual policy statements – with objectives being too many and in some cases repetitive
• Inadequate information of how public participation was done
• The planned phase-out of the Plantation and Livelihoods Improvement Scheme (PELIS). There was concern that getting rid of PELIS will lead to the eviction of communities from forests that they have been involved in protecting. Such a move could lead to retaliation and destruction of forests.

EAWLS partnered with the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) to host a panel of experts on 30th June.

Key recommendations at the third meeting included:
1. Suggestions to flesh out the forest policy formulation process to clearly demonstrate linkages between sectors, targets, actors and objectives.
2. A review rather than abolishment of the PELIS system with suggestions that a substantive reform process be established to mitigate systemic corruption and institutional incompetency that have crippled the scheme.
3. Effective facilitation of community participation incentives through clear demarcation of county and national government roles. Youth involvement and gender balance must be strategically formulated with clear guidelines on how to mainstream and ease implementation.
4. Sustained engagement of the private sector as partners in forest conservation.

All the above issues and recommendations raised in the three meetings were consolidated into one document and submitted to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry.

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Adopt An Acre In The Mara!

Africa’s wildlife is one of the continent’s biggest attractions. Game reserves and national parks welcome millions of visitors every year, who want to experience wild animals up close.

They rely on that revenue to pay for conservation projects. But now, revenue flow has stopped entirely because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. And many rangers who protect the animals from poachers have lost their incomes.

Conservationists are worried the economic toll could push more people into the illegal wildlife trade.

As one solution to the collapse of global tourism revenues during this crisis, Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps have come up with their own way of ensuring that animals and wildlife habitats are protected, and that rural communities are supported until things return to normal with their new Adopt an Acre plan.

Through the “Adopt-an-Acre” plan, contributors can adopt an acre of land in Kenya’s Maasai Mara conservancies for a year with a donation to the Wildlife Habitat Trust- a fund set up to help to pay the wages of the local staff working in the conservancies as well as the land leases so that Maasai families continue receiving land rents for conservancies to exist. The Trust is audited by a reputable firm of auditors in Nairobi, Grant Thornton Kenya, thus, contributors to the Wildlife Habitat Trust can be confident that 100% of the money collected is going directly to the Maasai community.

In total, there are 42,500 acres to be adopted: Selenkay 13,500 acres, Ol Kinyei 18,500 acres, Naboisho 3,500 acres, Olare Motorogi 7,000 acres.

These 42,500 acres leased by Gamewatchers Safaris provide an income of almost US$1.5 million to the community annually. Every acre of conservancy land supported creates a protected habitat for wildlife and also generates US$35(per acre) that goes straight to the Maasai people with US$20 going to payments for land rents and US$15 to wages.

Today, you have the special opportunity to Adopt an Acre and help ensure that nature’s most vulnerable lands and waters are given the care, love, and the protection that they need.

As a special incentive, anyone adopting 30 acres or more will receive a credit from Gamewatchers Safaris for the same amount donated, to be used for payment of a stay at any of the Porini Camps in 2021 or 2022. So, for example, a donation of US$ 1050 to adopt 30 acres will receive a travel credit worth US$ 1050.

See more details on how to Adopt an Acre: https://www.porini.com/adopt-an-acre-2

 

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Global Push for Net Zero Recovery From Covid-19

Global push for net zero recovery from Covid-19:

155 companies — with a combined market capitalization of over US$ 2.4 trillion and representing over 5 million employees — have signed a statement urging governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science.

As debates on recovery packages around the world ramp up in the coming weeks, the companies, which are all part of the Science Based Targets initiative, are calling for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050. The signatories span 34 sectors and have headquarters in 33 countries.

They include: AstraZeneca, Bayer, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive Company, Inter IKEA Group, Nestlé, Schneider Electric. Unilever, Vodafone Group, amongst others.

The statement comes as governments around the world are preparing trillions of dollars worth of stimulus packages to help economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and as they prepare to submit enhanced national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. In the coming weeks, several major economies will take key decisions in their recovery efforts, including the European Union Recovery Plan, new stimulus packages from the United States of America and India, and the G7 Heads of State summit in June.

The 155 companies have already set, or committed to set, science-based emissions reduction targets. By signing the statement, they are reaffirming that their own decisions and actions remain grounded in science, while calling on governments to “prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy.” Policy and spending that incorporates climate targets will reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters, create good jobs, reduce emissions and ensure clean air, according to a study from Oxford University.

“Saving lives and livelihoods, and building a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future, are at the heart of our efforts to recover from COVID-19,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We can beat the virus, address climate change and create new jobs through actions that move us from the grey to green economy. Many companies are showing us that it is indeed possible and profitable, to adopt sustainable, emission-reducing plans even during difficult times like this. I warmly welcome the ambitious, science-based actions we are seeing from leading companies who are demonstrating to policy-makers that green growth remains the best growth strategy.”

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Today is World Environment Day – a day for raising worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

This year’s theme, “Time for nature” is a call for urgent action to protect biodiversity.

Over the years, World Environment Day has grown into one of the largest global platforms for environmental public outreach and is observed in over 150 countries. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the day will be celebrated and commemorated through its first – ever online – only campaign.

In honour of World Environment Day, the East African Wild Life Society has partnered with the Mpala Research Centre to host a special reading of Executive Director Dino J. Martins children’s book on entomology. Kids of all ages are welcome to learn what means what it means to explore the world around us.

For more information and to register for this event, visit: https://mpala.org/kids-corner/

 

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Installation of Rocket Stove at Karuka Primary School

An energy needs assessment conducted by East African Wild Life Society among households within and around Mt. Suswa Conservancy has revealed that over 90% of these households rely on biomass to fuel their traditional cooking stoves. This reliance has led to escalating levels of forest destruction in the conservancy as well as habitat reduction for baboons, leopards, spotted hyenas, african civets  and rock hyraxes who call Mt. Suswa Conservancy home. An increase in respiratory disorders, predominantly among women and school going children has also been noted.

This rocket stove uses less firewood than traditional cook stoves

In response, EAWLS in partnership with the Karen Country Club (KCC) recently installed an institutional rocket stove at Karuka Primary School, Mt. Suswa Conservancy. The rocket stove has a capacity to cook for up to 250 people at a go and is expected to benefit over 225 people directly. This rocket stove uses less firewood than traditional cook stoves and ensures complete fuel combustion, thus faster cooking times.

Karuka Primary School is but one of several schools located around Mt. Suswa Conservancy that use traditional cook stoves to prepare meals for their students and teachers. These traditional cooking stoves are inefficient as they do not fully combust biomass thus, up to 75% of heat they produce is lost. Their combustion processes also release compounds including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter and black carbon that are hazardous to human health.

Indoor smoke from biomass is linked to childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer and is ranked in the top 10 risk factors for the global burden of disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The rocket stove has a capacity to cook for up to 250 people at a go

To facilitate the use of their traditional cooking stove, Karuka Primary School pupils previously had to carry at least two pieces of firewood to school every day – a tedious exercise that exposed them to various hazards including attacks by wild animals.

This installation of this and other rocket stoves is a step forward in helping Kenya realise a 100% transition to renewable energy. Furthermore, this initiative champions sustainable development through improvements to human health, energy access as well as biodiversity protection.

If you would like to partner with EAWLS to install rocket stoves in Mt. Suswa Conservancy and reduce biomass dependence, please contact Jabes.Okumu@eawildlife.org.

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Postpone, Don’t Cancel

The best way to support wildlife conservation is to plan your visit for later. The worse you can do is ask for a refund.
Do you have a safari planned to Africa this year? If so, we encourage you to change the dates; and not to cancel…

Several African states have imposed far-reaching restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

South Africa has declared a national disaster and announced a ban on travel from the worst-affected countries, while Kenya has also imposed sweeping travel restrictions with ripple effects on the continent’s tourism sphere.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the virus, while the travel sector could shrink up to 25 per cent in 2020.

Pride of lionesses using the NNP sign as a vantage point to survey their surroundings

The survival of the tourism industry- in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic- is key for the preservation of Africa’s wildlife and wild places. Protected areas in many developing countries rely heavily on tourism fees. For example, national parks in Kenya, home of the iconic Nairobi National Park, derive almost 70% of their income from tourism revenue (such as entrance fees, restaurants, accommodation, concession fees).

In light of this, many of East Africa’s tourist destinations are now urging travelers to try to postpone their trip, rather than cancel. ”Keep money on account for a postponement rather than demand a refund. When things go back to normal, you have something booked,” advices Embark’s CEO, Jack Ezon.

Picturesque: A beautiful Leopard lounges in its tree in Maasai Mara

We recommend that you not give up on your safari, on an experience of a lifetime because of the Coronavirus, and instead make a fully informed decision by speaking directly to your safari tour operator, accommodation and airlines. Africa needs you: postpone, don’t cancel.

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Our Response to COVID-19

By Nancy Ogonje, Executive Director, East African Wild Life Society

First of all, we hope that all of you and your loved ones are coping with this difficult environment we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want you to know that you are in our thoughts and that we sincerely hope you remain healthy.

We are currently facing significant disruptions to our lives and a major and largely unforeseen global challenge that affects people in all corners of the world. The East African Wild Life Society is no exception: the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our members, our partners—both regional and across the globe—as well as our staff.

With COVID-19-related challenges mounting, EAWL’s mission becomes even more urgent—not only to protect wildlife, but also people—because we are all now suffering the consequences of the dangerous wildlife trade practices that for years, EAWLS has been advocating against.

This period will be challenging as we continue to champion a change in our relationship with wildlife while not being able to properly mobilise our teams to carry out conservation projects on the ground.

Where we can, we plan to increase our online presence so that people indoors remain connected to the natural world. If you would like to offer additional support to help with EAWLS’s ongoing activities during the lockdown period, please follow this link.

Through this crisis, the East African Wild Life Society will continue to be the voice that nature needs. We hope you and your families will join us at the other end, all the more willing to fight for nature at this pivotal tipping point for our planet.

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Climate Action: The Unlikely Beneficiary of Coronavirus

Impossible view of Mt. Kenya captured from Kilimani, Nairobi; attributed to a decrease in air pollution following the Covid-19 lockdown/ Osman Siddiqi

With a soaring infection rate, growing death toll and widespread lockdowns which are shutting down entire economies and costing people their jobs, it is hard to see any positive side of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it seems the lockdown has had an unintended benefit – blue skies.

Satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency show a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions – those released by vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities – in major Chinese cities between January and February. The visible cloud of toxic gas hanging over industrial powerhouses almost disappeared.

Pollution levels in China in 2019, left, and 2020. Photograph: ESA satellite data

While not a greenhouse gas itself, the pollutant originates from the same activities and industrial sectors that are responsible for a large share of the world’s carbon emissions and that drive global heating.

One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.

The exponential growth of the coronavirus pandemic also teaches us a valuable lesson about the perils of ignoring destructive processes—and perhaps even larger, longer-term disasters—that increase exponentially.

Aside from the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest, most destructive exponential growth processes that we must grapple with today are those associated with global climate change.

“If we can think about how to prepare for climate change like a pandemic, maybe there will be a positive outcome to all of this,” says Christopher Jones, lead developer of the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley. “We can help prevent crises in the future if we are prepared. I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful.”

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Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program Tree Monitoring

It is no secret that there has been major damage to Kenya’s forests, which cover about 7.4 per cent of the total land area against the recommended global minimum of 10 per cent.

The country’s closed canopy forests cover only 2 per cent of the total land area, compared to the African average of 9.3 per cent and a global average of 21.4 per cent. Most of the closed canopy forests in Kenya are montane forests that are also the nation’s water towers.

 A waterfall in Aberdare forest

In recent years, Kenya’s forests have been depleted at an alarming rate of 5,000 hectares per annum, resulting in an estimated annual reduction in water availability of over 62 million cubic meters.

In response, the East African Wild Life Society pioneered the The Forest Challenge – an annual event meant to raise funds for the conservation of forests and raise awareness on their importance.

The Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program launched in 2015, has so far restored over 8.5 hectares of degraded montane forests in Eburru and Kereita Forests that form part of the larger Mau forest complex and the Aberdare water towers respectively.

This forest rehabilitation program is intended to provide a fillip to efforts to achieve Kenya’s stated objective of increasing the national tree cover to at least 10 per cent of the country’s total landmass by 2022.

Monitoring of the tree seedlings planted under the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program is critical in ensuring that the saplings planted take root and thrive. Thus, the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program employs an elaborate three-year tree care strategy, and works closely with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Community Forest Associations (CFAs) to implement it.

Planted tree seedlings thriving at Eburru Forest

In this program, CFAs are empowered to work closely with KFS to undertake the aftercare activities for all the newly planted sites for a duration of up to three years. These aftercare activities include watering the trees when there is inadequate rainfall; spot weeding in order to remove competition for moisture and nutrients as well as protecting the trees from destruction by humans, livestock and wildlife. This not only enhances tree growth success rates but also creates ownership among the local communities while empowering them economically.

On 20th March 2020, the East African Wild Life Society’s project team visited the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation site in Eburru Forest to assess the success rate of the 4,500 tree seedlings planted in two phases in May 2019 with proceeds from the 2018 Forest Challenge.

The assessment showed that 85 per cent of the trees planted in the first phase had survived and were thriving – a very exciting development! An assessment of the trees planted in the second phase is scheduled as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

We want to thank our donors and corporate sponsors of the Forest Challenge for enabling us to plant and grow these trees. We look forward to more tree planting in the years to come!

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