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No silent Environment Day

In Summary

• Still on over-population, another environmental issue stems that really needs a lot of attention — deforestation.

• Comes purely as a result of human activities for instance in their quest to decongest the over-populated areas.

Ngong Hills Forest
Ngong Hills Forest
Image: COURTESY

As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak world over, a number of events falling within the affected dates have perhaps been celebrated differently or slip with the wind as shutdown to tame the spread of the virus continues.

For the first time, the historical day that was on the calendar this week, Madaraka Day, was rather different in Kenya as His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta led the nation in honouring the 57th celebration from State House, Nairobi. Who would imagine such a huge and important occasion would go down virtually?

The pandemic has for sure disrupted a lot but made us digital innovative.

Today, another very important occasion on the calendar, World Environmental Day is on but the restrictions on movements and just general guidelines in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 won’t allow us to observe the day as it should be – a day that should be full of activities to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.That is not to mean we shouldn’t advocate for a better and healthy environment. 

If the world is to remain a supportive habitat for humans and other species at large, there are top environmental problems that must be solved — because nature is all that life depends on.

The world’s population is increasing by the day and according to documented statistics by the United Nations, the figures have increased by almost 50% since 1990 which in turn, is accelerating climate change and threatening the survival of millions of people, plants and animals by causing atmospheric events like droughts, fires and floods – close examples.   

 
 

Over-population comes with another environmental problem— air pollution, which is experienced mostly in densely-populated areas and the World Health Organization states that over 80% of people living in such areas are exposed to unfit air quality — a number of health problems are linked to polluted air.

It’s no doubt fossil fuels pollute the air and replacing it with renewable energy is the best way out – might sound a long shot for some countries but with proper investment and well planning, it’s achievable.

Emissions from agriculture must also be reduced and industrial processes must be changed for our environment to have clean and healthy air – and the United Nations too supports this by advocating for eliminating dumping and minimising the use of chemicals among other measures.  

Still on over-population, another environmental issue stems that really needs a lot of attention — deforestation. Comes purely as a result of human activities for instance in their quest to decongest the over-populated areas. Deforestation, which according to available records, produces about 15 percent of world’s greenhouse emissions and leads to loss of habitat for many species of plants and extinction of many animals that would rather be conserved.  

We should really be worried because continued human activities are leading to biodiversity and that means, generations to come will have to deal with problems that ought to have been dealt with and in this sense is to conserve environment thus avoiding depletion of resources — that worrying trend is backed by evidence that Tropical forests used to cover about 15 percent of the planet's land area but that is down to about seven percent - logging and burning have led to this.

If we don’t stop deforestation in Kenya, the gains from forestry will be fast eroded and we can be sure to face the obvious consequences like for instance, the five montane forests will be meaningless.

Not only do species inherently deserve to exist, they also provide products and ‘services’ vital for human survival - think bees and their pollinating prowess - necessary for growing food… and what about forests that act as water catchment areas and tourism among other essential items? We all unite and combine forces for reforestation – robust planting of trees.To conserve what is left, strong governance is needed and all stakeholders must be involved.

Other than just the concerned authorities, Corporates too must join the bandwagon to support conservation initiatives. If not well checked and controlled, human activities can have a negative impact on the environment leading to disastrous issues in future and that means the world will be uninhabitable.

I am happy to support conservation actions,  and greatly appreciate actions by all stakeholders,  especially in Kenyan parks and the along the coast,  will continue to have in gazetted protected areas banning of single used plastics . This is a call for the private sector to enhance the recycling plastic programs and encourage recycling of used plastics to create employment for Kenyans and raw material for manufacturers and materials for other users as well.

Chris Diaz is a Business Leader and conservationist