, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – The government has challenged the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to hasten the process of creating an inventory for the country’s species.
Forestry and Wildlife Assistant Minister Josephat Koli Nanok said on Wednesday that Kenya’s biodiversity was important hence the need to exhaustively record them, appraise their value and define a comprehensive conservation framework for them.
“Biodiversity is facing serious challenges throughout the world and Kenya’s biodiversity is no exception. Kenya is especially rich in biodiversity which is vital for the well being of people and our planet. The loss of biodiversity will impoverish humanity and threaten ecological and planetary processes,” he said at the opening of a three day International conference on biodiversity, land use and climate change.
Environment Permanent Secretary Ali Dawood Mohamed said biodiversity conservation was not a preserve of one country but needed a global effort especially because of transboundary problems that impacted on the conservation efforts.
“Of particular concern which we hope this conference will help us solve is the issue of the proposed construction of a road in the Serengeti Park which is going to have very serious implications for our rich and world famous Mara National Park,” he said in reference to the Tanzanian government’s plans to build a commercial highway running East-West across the Serengeti National Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Conservationists have warned that this would lead to loss of wildlife.
The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife at the same time faulted Kenya’s protected forests, parks and reserves and said they were not helping in conservation efforts.
The Assistant Minister said although the protected areas were important, they only covered 10 percent of the land surface area and their boundaries did not encompass the entire ecosystem.
The protected areas are those where human activities are prohibited or controlled to preserve particular species or their habitats.
“The boundaries exclude a large portion of species and key biological hotspots. Recent studies show that wildlife population and plant species in protected areas are declining as fast as in adjoining non protected areas. In short, protected areas provide neither the space nor the protection to sustain Kenya’s biodiversity. Many species face extinction,” the assistant Minister said.
The Environment Permanent Secretary said the high rate of population growth remained a great threat to biodiversity conservation.
“The country’s conservation and environmental practice must embrace the challenges of the 21st century, the challenges of ever growing population, reality of 10 million increase of population every 10 years and that is a serious challenge for biological diversity conservation,” he said.