Further Resources

Deforestation

The main reasons for deforestation are multiple and complex: from unregulated charcoal production, logging of indigenous trees, marijuana cultivation, and cultivated fields in the indigenous forest to shamba-system practices, livestock grazing, quarry landslides and human settlements. Fuel wood and charcoal represent the most important energy source for the population, at 75 per cent, and the forestry sector creates both formal and informal job opportunities, especially in rural areas.

As a result, deforestation has largely been driven by private consumption, as the demand of households has doubled within the last ten years. This number is also underestimated as it does not incorporate the informal sector, which has been expanding, particularly in rural areas where firewood is collected for free or exchanged for other goods.

While forest products bring in one-off cash to the national economy, they encourage illegal deforestation activities and create huge economic damage through the loss of regulating services. The report was developed in the framework of the United Nations Collaborative Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme). The UN-REDD Programme supports Kenya and 45 other developing countries to conserve, sustainably manage and restore their forest resources.

The report quantified the following negative economic consequences of deforestation:

By 2010, the cumulative negative effect of deforestation on the economy through reduction in regulating services was an estimated KSh 3,650 million per year, more than four times the cash revenue of deforestation;

1. Decreased river flows in dry season reduces water supply to irrigation agriculture, at a cost of 1.5 billion shillings to the sector in 2010;
2. Reduced river flows also reduced hydropower generation by 12 million shillings, producing a multiplier effect on the rest of the economy through power shortages (46 per cent of Kenya's power comes from hydro generation);
3. Increased wet-season flows lead to erosion and sedimentation, resulting in a loss of productive soil resources, which in turn increases nutrient content in fresh water systems, causes siltation and increases turbidity of water supplies. This reduction in water quality reduced inland fish catch by 86 million shillings and increased the cost of water treatment for potable use by 192 million shillings in 2010;
4. Incidence of malaria as a result of deforestation is estimated to have cost 237 million shillings by 2010, in the form of health costs to the government and losses in labour productivity;
5. Forest loss is also detrimental to the global carbon cycle. The above-ground carbon storage value forgone through deforestation was estimated at 511 million shillings in 2010 (calculated at a value of US$6 per ton under the REDD+ scheme).

The Kenyan government has already recognized the value of its forests, and is working on the rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Complex. Over the last one-and-a-half years, more than 21,000 hectares of forestland have been repossessed, and 10,000 hectares have been rehabilitated by the Government of Kenya and partners.