Kenya Launches Multimillion Dollar Appeal to Restore Vital Mau Forest
Over 25% of Forest Cover Lost to Ecosystem Encroachments Threatening Natural Capital, Wildlife and Livelihoods in Kenya and the Region
UNEP Pledges Continued Support and Calls for Urgent Action at Strategic Partners Forum
Nairobi, 9 September 2009 - A multimillion dollar appeal to save the Mau Forests Complex has been launched by the Government of Kenya at a Partners Forum hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The appeal aims to mobilize resources for the rehabilitation of the Mau, the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem in Kenya covering over 400,000 hectares - the size of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares combined.
The strategic importance of the Mau Forest lies in the ecosystem services it provides to Kenya and the region, including river flow regulation, flood mitigation, water storage, reduced soil erosion, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, carbon reservoir and microclimate regulation.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "The Mau Complex is of critical importance for sustaining current and future ecological, social and economic development in Kenya. The rehabilitation of the ecosystem will require substantial resources and political goodwill. UNEP is privileged to work in partnership with the Government of Kenya towards the implementation of this vital project."
Kenyan Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga said: "I wish to thank the Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Achim Steiner and his staff for the informed leadership and technical support they provided. Today we gather here to define the way forward for the Mau, I wish to appeal to every Kenyan and development partner to support the Government's efforts to rehabilitate the Mau by ensuring adequate resources are mobilized to preserve and conserve the ecosystem."
Over the last two decades, the Mau Complex has lost around 107,000 hectares - approximately 25% - of its forest cover due to irregular and unplanned settlements, illegal resources extraction, in particular logging and charcoal burning, the change of land use from forest to unsustainable agriculture and change in ownership from public to private.