Further Resources

UNEP report on deforestation in Kenya 2012 5th Nov

Hon. Dr. Noah Wekesa, Kenya's Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, said the report - entitled 'The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy' and launched at the beginning of the Kenya Water Towers, Forests and Green Economy National Dialogue - marked a new phase in efforts to conserve the vital ecosystem services provided by Kenya's forests. "The value of the Mau Forest's ecosystem services to the Kenyan economy previously calculated by UNEP has already catalyzed a response to conserve and rehabilitate this vital resource," he said. "This shows we have already acknowledged the importance of forests.

However, this new report quantifies the massive scale of the economic damage deforestation brings and shows much more needs to be done nation-wide." Kenya's five water towers - Mau Forest Complex, Mount Kenya, the Aberdares, Mount Elgon and Cherangani - feed filtered rainwater to rivers and lakes and provide more than 15,800 million cubic metres of water per year, which represents over 75 per cent of the country's renewable surface water resources.

These forests store water during the rainy season and release it slowly, thus ensuring water flow during dry periods. The forests thus provide resilience to seasonal environmental and economic changes and long-term economic hazards like climate change. Aside from timber and fuel they also bring benefits to the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors; the electricity and water sectors; the hotels and accommodation sector; and the public administration and defense sector.

Yet between 2000 and 2010, deforestation in the water towers amounted to an estimated 28,427 hectares, leading to reduced water availability of approximately 62 million cubic metres per year. Kenya's economy is highly vulnerable to water availability. Inflation spiked above 10 per cent on three occasions between 2000 and 2010, each time driven by drought combined with increasing crude oil prices and weaker exchange rates.

"Kenya is today underlining its determination to be among a group of pioneering countries putting its nature-based assets at the centre of its sustainable development ambitions," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. "The findings of this report are based on the best international analytical methods and the latest environmental and economic evidence- it is these kinds of cutting-edge assessments that are inspiring more and more countries in Africa and beyond towards the opportunities presented in a transition to an inclusive Green Economy," he added.