The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) participated in the review of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report of the proposed expansion of Ndaragwa Township.
Pursuant to registration 21 Environmental Management and Coordination (Impact Assessment and Audit ) Regulations 2003, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) had received the Environment Impact Assessment Study for this proposed expansion and was thus seeking comments from the public before issuing a license.
The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township, Honourable Jeremiah N. Kioni, is proposing to hive 300 acres off the Aberdare (Ndaragwa Block) forest to allow expansion of Ndaragwa Township in Ndaragwa Sub-County Nyandarua County.
In response, the East African Wild Life Society brought together stakeholders in the forest sector through the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) for a virtual meeting on 30th June 2020 to review the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report with the following observations:
- No specialist(s) on plants and animals was involved in the team conducting the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), hence the findings on the impacts of the project on biodiversity cannot be depended upon.
- The proposed greening of all the streets, parking areas and other infrastructure of the town using indigenous tree species found in the Aberdare Forest (Ndaragwa Block), in order to attract birds and other wildlife including monkeys back to the town fails to take into account that monkeys have the potential to become a menace in the town.
- Proof of public participation including signed participant lists that should be annexed to the report are missing. Photos do not qualify participation. Concerns about whether the participants were clearly informed of the impact of the decision have been raised.
- Stakeholder participation reports on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report are missing. These reports inform how stakeholder participation is conducted and indicates whether the relevant lead agency; Kenya Forest Service (KFS) was adequately consulted. It is also not clear whether other relevant lead agencies including the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) were consulted.
- Considering the nature of the project, the level of authorizing officers should rank from the Ecosystem Conservator (EC) upwards. What appears in the report are the individual comments of a forest officer and a letter from the Director of Forests of the now defunct Department of forests of Nyandarua County. Additionally, comments from FCC (Forest Conservation Committee) should have been sought that would then have made recommendations to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) board.
- The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township into Aberdare forest has not explicitly cover the impacts of cutting down the forest on the environment. For instance, as much as the proponent admits that variation of the boundary as proposed will significantly negatively affect all the three rivers (Mbombo, Pesi and the seasonal stream) the report does not go to further explain the ripple effect of this impact, say, to downstream users like the communities in Samburu County who will undoubtedly suffer water supply shortages.
- The proponent of the expansion of Ndaragwa Township into Aberdare forest has not considered total economic valuation of the forest and the subsequent economic loss of hiving off the forest. Forests provide direct and indirect benefits that should be quantified during conversion.
- The proponent has not explored alternatives/options to hiving off forest land. For example, there is a lot of private land that is available yet this land is not clearly shown on the map. The map only shows forest blocks.
- It has been determined and confirmed from the Ndung’u report that the land intended for the expansion of the town was illegally acquired.
- Expansion of the township would cause a lot of pressure on the adjacent forest ecosystem and many resources including but not limited to, fuel wood and water. For instance, the expansion will mean more people coming to settle-in hence increased demand for fuel wood and water.
- The ESIA report keeps referring to documents in the appendices yet they are not attached to the report hence difficult for reviewers to verify/make proper references.
- Hiving 162.52 acres of forest land in Nyandarua County will set a bad precedent for other counties who are likely to demand more forest land. This in contradiction to the government’s efforts, through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to recover areas of Mau and Ngong Road Forest.
With the above observations, the stakeholders concluded that conversion of the forest to a township will have un-repairable damage to the environment and lives of the people in the long run. They consequently opposed the conversion and urged NEMA NOT to approve the ESIA report. This position was stated in a Memorandum to NEMA which will be followed by lobbying the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) not to allow excision of the forest for the expansion of Ndaragwa Township.
Nairobi, June 15 – The latest version of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia for 2020 does not include pangolins, which means the mammals will no longer be used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The move came after China upgraded all species of pangolin from second-class to first-class protected animals on Friday considering their rapidly decreasing numbers due to over-hunting and habitat destruction.
According to the latest version of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, “depleted wild species will be withdrawn from the pharmacopoeia.”
Pangolins are believed to be one of the world’s most endangered animals and the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal, according to TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade research organization.
“Removing the animal from the pharmacopoeia would effectively reduce consumption demand for pangolins and curb illegal hunting and trading,” Sun Quanhui, a scientist from World Animal Protection, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Sun lauded the move, saying it complies with the calls for enhanced protection of pangolins.
In the late 1990s, the number of native pangolins in China was about 60,000, widely distributed in 11 provinces and regions, said a report from China’s first national survey of land wildlife resources.
But the number has declined by about 90 percent, estimated by the Species Survival Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
China started banning pangolin hunting in the wild in 2007 and stopped commercial imports of pangolins and pangolin products in 2018.
But the animal’s unique value as a TCM medicine and lax punishment for eating them have led to the continued hunting of Pagolions.
In TCM, pangolin scales are believed to be able to promote blood circulation and remove stasis as well as diminish inflammation. But the use of pangolin scales has become one of the main threats to their species, Sun noted.
Wang Chengde, an expert from the China Association of Chinese Medicine, told media that scorpion, chilopod and pig nails can be used as substitutes for pangolin scales in TCM therapy.
Pangolins are not the first animals whose medicinal standards have been outlawed. Rhinoceros horns and tiger bones are also banned from being used in TCMs after China banned the trade of these goods and related products in 1993.
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.