Forests and natural resources conservation are critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in countries that depend on natural resources for sustainability and growth like Kenya. In Kenya, the forest cover is estimated to be about 7.4% of the total land area which is way below the recommended global minimum of 10% forest cover.
Timber harvesting and illegal logging in Africa, especially of Rosewood which is a hardwood species, poses a threat to global biodiversity. It will also have a direct negative impact on other SDGs like poverty eradication, Climate action and Zero hunger and in the long run reduced forest cover. Continued logging and depletion of our forests will lead to water insecurity. As a nation we are already experiencing these negative impacts of water insecurity on our farming activities.
As a nation, to achieve 10% forest cover, it’s high time to involve the indigenous communities at the center of conservation activities with a clear strategy for a symbiotic relationship and well defined benefits they will gain from protecting natural resources and combating deforestation. “A villager cannot eat communication” and so, to attain sustainability in rural development depends largely on the way stakeholder communities perceive the proposed change and the degree to which they are involved in decision making and how changes in practice should be achieved.
For instance, the recent evictions which occurred as part of efforts to preserve Mau forest  could potentially have been avoided through dialogue and information sessions with the people involved. Ideological stories could have been used along with conversation that spurs innovation and change like the stories of the humming bird , and the drying stream  by the late professor Wangari Maathai. Organizations within forest areas should carry out corporate social responsibility geared towards increasing forest cover, protect already established forests, and reclaim bare land.
With the new curriculum, environmental clubs should be revived to give practical knowledge to pupils to ensure they understand the benefits of conservation for everyone. This calls for the ministry of Agriculture, forestry and Environment through Kenya forests services to invest in school programs in nurturing and planting trees. If we are increase forest cover now, we ought to change how we raise our kids. Once you carry your own water, you learn the value of every drop and so if the school pupils are involved in Environmental conservation and tree planting at tender age they will know the value of having a better Environment.
Use of seed balls to replant areas where natural flora has been destroyed should be taken into consideration. It’s a form of aerial reforestation, effective and fast as lots of seeds are spread in the most dangerous and remote areas to restore forest cover. Lots of forests have been destroyed which requires urgency in replanting trees. Counties with the lowest forest cover from the recent mapping should maximize the use of seed balls.
Together we can make a difference in protecting this irreplaceable biodiversity.
The founder, PaTree Initiative.