NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said that Kenyan forests contribute 3.6 per cent of the country’s GDP with annual economic benefits from the Mau forest complex alone standing at Sh110 billion according to a 2009 study.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister for Forest and Wildlife Noah Wekesa during celebrations to mark the world environment day, Odinga said another study done in 2011 put annual economic benefits from the Aberdares range forests alone at about Sh56 billion.
He said, “With these figures in mind, it should be clear to everyone that the battle to conserve our forests is essential. Indeed, all our main economic sectors-agriculture, tourism and energy-depend extensively on the environment.”
Noting that there was a correlation between poverty and environmental pollution, the PM stressed the country was pursuing a development path that closely links poverty eradication, green imperatives and environmental concerns.
Odinga however observed that it was unfortunate that in the struggle to conserve the environment, not many have seen the light and not many are willing to take the risks either.
Saying these shortcomings must be confronted at a personal level to attain the goals of Kenya’s vision 2030, the PM identified five flagship environment projects for 2008-2012-the first medium -term plan.
He said they included the water catchment management initiative which calls for rehabilitation of the five water towers; the Mau, Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Range, Cheranganyi Hills and Mt. Elgon.
Others, he added, are securing the wildlife corridors and migratory routes and the establishment of the water towers conservation fund with initial funding of Sh50 million from the government.
The PM went on to explain that the Ministry of Environment had begun the process that will lead to securing of the wildlife corridors in the southern rangeland of the Tsavo-Amboseli-Maasai Mara.
“The interim coordinating secretariat of the Mau and Rhino ark is also initiating a feasibility study to secure the wildlife corridor between Lake Naivasha, Eburu forest and eastern Mau forest,” he said.
And added: “We are investing in renewable energy-geothermal, wind, solar and clean coal-as alternatives to oil. This will create many new jobs and new industries and keep us competitive.”
He noted that it was in recognition of these efforts that the World Bank, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Danish International Development Agency(DANIDA) working with Strathmore University agreed to set up the climate innovation centre in Nairobi, the first of its kind in Africa.
“The centre will assist the private sector in acquiring climate resilient technologies to take the country forward on a low-carbon growth path,” he added.
Saying green growth is initially prohibitively expensive, the PM called for a collaborative partnership with development partners to catalyze public-private partnerships in green growth.