A campaign by NGO Nature Kenya has saved the Dakatcha Woodland Important Bird Area (IBA) from destruction for planting biofuel crops, reports BirdLife International. Located near Kenya’s eastern coastline, the forest is home to two IUCN Red List Endangered species, Clarke’s weaver (Ploceus golandi) and sokoke pipit (Anthus sokokensis), both of which are imperiled by habitat loss. The plan to covert 10,000 hectares of the forest in jatropha, used for biofuels, was recently rejected by Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
“It is heartening to see NEMA’s decisions being guided by science. We now urge NEMA to apply the same criteria to the proposed biofuel plantations in other sensitive areas such as the Tana River Delta,” said Paul Matiku, Executive Director of Nature Kenya (BirdLife’s offshoot in the region), in a press release.
Jatropha has become a controversial biofuel. Used to date in a number of notable air flights, proponents argue that the crop is resistant to drought and pest problems, and may be competitive in the energy market. However, critics contend that the biofuel, as with many first generation biofuels, may actually produce more greenhouse gas emissions than burning fossil fuels if it is grown over natural ecosystems, such as the Dakatcha Woodlands.
Even as the Dakatcha Woodlands is spared, a Canadian biofuel company has proposed to grow 10,000 hectares of jatropha in nearby wetlands, the Tana River Delta. Covering 130,000 hectares the Tana River Delta is considered one of the most important watersheds in the country.
“Sadly this case is just one of an increasing number of European companies grabbing land in Africa to cash in on biofuel subsidies in the UK and Europe,” says Helen Byron with the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird. “Ultimately, the only thing will stop it is for governments to end support for biofuels and to focus on cutting carbon from transport through electric vehicles instead.”
(01/04/2012) It may appear unintuitive that special toilets could benefit hippos and other wetland species, but the Center for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE) has proven the unique benefits of new toilets in the Dunga Wetlands on Lake Victoria’s Kenyan side. By building ecologically-sanitary (eco-san) toilets, CREE has managed to alleviate some of the conflict that has cropped up between hippos and humans for space.
(09/27/2011) Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are supporting government efforts to enact progressive new policies through its Vision 2030 initiative as it promises to lift us out of a depressed economy and to take us onto a path to becoming a prosperous developed nation. For this to occur, development must be sustainable —but for now what the people want and need most is for the basic necessities for life to be assured like adequate water, sanitation, energy, health, education, homes, and jobs. It is unfortunate that some of our leaders are mistaken in believing that this means Kenya should look like USA or Europe with concrete cities and mega highways, speed trains, and artificial gardens—it will all be at the cost of our spectacular natural environment and wildlife heritage. Kenya hardly has any natural resources, what we have is wilderness and wildlife. For Kenya to stand apart, she must aspire to safeguard the environment and protect forests and wildlife as a central means of to attaining this sustainable development goal.
(06/19/2011) Africa’s forests are fast diminishing to the detriment of climate, biodiversity, and millions of people of dependent on forest resources for their well-being. But is the full conservation of Africa’s forests necessary to mitigate global climate change and ensure environmental stability in Africa? A new report by The Forest Philanthropy Action Network (FPAN), a non-profit that provides research-based advice on funding forest conservation, argues that only the full conservation of African forests will successfully protect carbon stocks in Africa.