THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News ; Standard (Kenya): EU gives Sh280m for Mau rehabilitation ; New Age (South Africa): Eco-harmony in Kenya‘s Mau Forest ; AllAfrica.com: Kenya: Mau Reclamation Gets Sh276 Million Boost ; Coast Week (Kenya): Government plans body to manage Mau water tower ; Capital FM (Kenya): UNEP, Kenya in Sh270m Mau rehabilitation plan ; Ghana Business News (Ghana): African youth call for more justice in Climate Change negotiations
; Australian (Australia): UN climate talks begin amid worries Kyoto pact may dissolve
; Business Day (South Africa): COP-17: UN environment body hits out at rich countries
; Pollution Online (USA): UNEP Says Renewables Key to Getting Emissions on Safe
; Montreal Gazette (Canada): Pope, Tutu urge climate-change deal
; Financial Post (USA): Renewable power trumps fossils for first time as UN stalls
; Vanguard (Nigeria): EU, US urges passage of PIB
; Eco Business: Indonesia optimistic to surpass one billion tree target
; UN News Centre: UN climate change conference kicks off in Durban with call to action
Other Environment News
; Reuters (USA): China decries Canada's "bad example" in climate talks
; China Daily (China): Fate of Kyoto Protocol in spotlight at talks
; China (USA): Durban's U.N. climate stakes
; Huffington Post (USA): Global Warming: 2011 Tied for the 10th Hottest Year on
; CBC News (Canada): Manitoba needs an environment commissioner, say groups
; BBC (UK): One environment body will save ?158m - Welsh government
; Vietnam Net (Vietnam): Vietnam, Denmark set up strategic partnership on climate
; ABC.az (Azerbaijan): Azerbaijan Health Ministry invites bids for environment
; UN News Centre: Land degradation and water shortages threaten global food
production – UN
; UN News Centre: This year will be world‘s tenth warmest on record, UN report
; UN News Centre: UN backed-convention praises Project Predator initiative to
protect wild tigers
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
; Environment News from the UN Daily News of 30 November 2011
; Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 29
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Standard (Kenya): EU gives Sh280m for Mau rehabilitation
29 November 2011
The drive to conserve the Mau Forest Complex has received a Sh280 million (Euros 2.3
said a new million) boost from the European Union, as Prime Minister Raila Odinga
institution will manage water towers.
The EU cash will be used to rehabilitate the severely degraded water catchments and forestland in Northern Mau Forest and improve the livelihoods of local communities in a three-year intervention
Activities planned include survey and demarcation of boundaries of selected forest blocks and planting appropriate seedlings.
"The EU is happy to finance this project as it will lead to rehabilitation of Sub-Saharan Africa‘s largest closed-canopy forests and to fight climate change," said EU Charge d‘ Affairs and Head of Operations Bernard Rey at a ceremony held in a Nairobi hotel.
Raila said that he will push ahead with efforts to secure the Mau even if it would hurt his political career.
"This project could not have come at a better time. We can no longer argue about the wisdom of investing to conserve our forests. We cannot carry on with business as usual without paying a heavy price," he said.
Critical water towers
The PM revealed that he will soon be launching the Kenya Water Towers Agency to
spearhead efforts to protect the five critical water towers across the country (Mau, Mt Kenya, Aberdares, Cherangany and Mt Elgon).
The new body will replace the Interim Coordinating Secretariat housed at the PM‘s office,
whose mandate ends next year.
UN Undersecretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the
generous support of EU for the restoration of Mau will place Kenya on the path of the green economy in which development is sustainable.
"The project will also go a long way in realising the requirements of the Kenyan Constitution to have at least 10% of the country‘s land to be under forests," he said.
Head of Mau Secretariat Hassan Noor suggested that bamboo would be excellent in restoring the complex and boosting the livelihoods of local communities like the Ogieks.
"Bamboo can generate money for Kenya if we invest heavily in it in Mau. It is the most economically viable option since many products can be developed from it including paper, linen and furniture," he said.
The EU has pledged a further Sh2.4 billion (Euros 20 million) for watershed protection and climate change adaptation
The EU together with the Danish government have also made Sh2 billion available for community-based organisations to conserve Kenya‘s water towers and other critical ecosystems.
The strategic value of Mau Forest which covers 400,000 hectares lies in providing water to millions of people and wildlife and regulating climate.
In the near future, the forest complex is projected to earn Kenya hundreds of millions of shillings from industrialised countries for the services it provides in taking carbon out of the atmosphere and reducing the impacts of climate change.
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New Age (South Africa): Eco-harmony in Kenya’s Mau Forest
29 November 2011
The resettlement of evictees from Kenya‘s Mau Forest remains a humanitarian and environmental concern for the country as more than 25000 people continue to live in camps around the forest.
―Indeed the communities around the Mau Forest, such as the Ogiek, Kipsigis and the Maasai, acknowledge the need to save the Mau, but the survival of the environment should be harmonised with the survival of the community,‖ says Lucy Sadera, who belongs to the Ogiek ethnic group and is a member of Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation – the country‘s largest women‘s movement for development.
The Mau Forest complex in Kenya‘s Rift Valley Province is home to the indigenous Ogiek and settler communities like the Kipsigis and Maasai.
The arrival of non-indigenous inhabitants to the Mau Forest began when former President Daniel Arap Moi (1978-2002) encouraged the deforestation of the Mau in order to provide a place to resettle victims of the 1990s land clashes.
However, communities in the Mau Forest, the largest in the country stretching across 400 000 hectares, were forcefully evicted by the government in 2009 in order to stop the massive deforestation occurring here.
For the last two years they have been living on the outskirts of the forest in tents with a lack of basic services, like sanitation.
The Mau Forest is the country‘s largest carbon reservoir and largest water tower. The forest is also responsible for flood mitigation and water storage, and reduces soil erosion.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has blamed frequent drought and flooding in East Africa on deforestation. In the case of the Mau, the water supply from the forest to urban and rural areas has been affected by deforestation.
The government recovered an estimated 20000 hectares of land through the evictions, but the forced removals have been a bitter pill for some to swallow, particularly for the Ogiek community.
―We have known no other home, just like the fish belongs to one habitat and can only
survive underwater, so are the Ogiek with the forest,‖ says Eliud Bonosos, one of only an estimated 20000 Ogiek people.
It has been especially hard to live with the eviction since government officials and prominent Kenyans allegedly ―own‖ large chunks of land in the Mau Forest complex and
have been accused of perpetuating deforestation.
Although the Mau Forest complex, the country‘s largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem,
is public property, prominent people were given huge pieces of land as a reward for their loyalty to the former regime.
However, they do not have title deeds to the land, as it cannot be legally sold. But it is not yet clear what action, if any, is to be taken against them.
Although a list was publicly released in 2010 naming those who allegedly ―owned‖ land
in the Mau, many on the list dismissed it as a witch-hunt and a backlash to their rejection of the proposed constitution, which was promulgated around that time.
―The Ogiek are bitter because we continue to be harassed by the government even
though the government is aware that the culprits of the massive destruction of the forest are actually prominent political figures.
―The Mau is our ancestral land. Why is it that it‘s only in the last decade that destruction of the forest has begun? We know how to coexist with nature and we are not responsible for this ruin,‖ Bonosos says.
He adds that some of the people who ―own‖ land in the Mau have used the ‗forests resources for personal gain. Some have logged trees, while others have turned huge pieces of land into farming areas.
―The Mau Forest‘s significance to the community as well as to the country at large is not in dispute, but this forest has been headed for utter destruction from years of encroachment and the consequent logging,‖ explains Kantau Nkuruna of the Community
The association, an initiative led by the Ogiek and other communities living near the Mau, aims to help locals benefit from the forest while protecting it.
Nkuruna adds: ―Over the last two decades the Mau has lost about 25% of its forest cover, which translates to about 107000 hectares, due to illegal settlements, logging and charcoal burning.‖
―The Mau attracts rainfall and is also a major water reservoir, and as a community we have seen the impact its destruction has had on rainfall in this region,‖ says Nkuruna.
He adds that since conservation efforts began last year, rainfall in the region has improved.
The Mau Forest conserves excess rainwater, and forms the upper catchments of all the main rivers in Kenya‘s western region.
These rivers in turn are the lifeline of major lakes such as Lake Naivasha in Kenya, Lake Victoria in Tanzania and Uganda, Lake Turkana in Kenya and Ethiopia, and Lake Natron in Tanzania and Kenya.
Destruction of the forest would reverberate beyond the country‘s borders. However, in an attempt by the government to save the Mau, the Kenya Forest Service has recently provided rangers to patrol the forest and protect it from further deforestation.
The question of saving the Mau Forest and resettling its evictees continues to be an extremely emotive issue because politicians from the region claim the eviction of the Mau communities was a move by the government to punish the Rift Valley people for their political leanings.
In the 2007 general election, people in the region voted for the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. This region is significant politically because people here constitute a large voting block, which has the ability to sway an election.
However, the government continues to try to find a home for the evictees.
Minister for Lands James Orengo has admitted that ―mistakes were made in the Mau eviction process, but that can be corrected. The task is now to find a community that is not hostile to the evictees.‖
However, in the past the government has cited a lack of funds as a reason for not being able to purchase communal land where the evictees can settle.
It is a situation that may change as the government treasury has allocated an estimated $120m (R1bn) for the resettlement of the Ogiek as well as those displaced by the country‘s post election violence in 2007-2008.
The rehabilitation of the Mau Forest and the survival of the indigenous communities will require a balance between preserving the environment and the protection of its inhabitants.
So far, this has remained elusive.
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_________________________________________________________________ AllAfrica.com: Kenya: Mau Reclamation Gets Sh276 Million Boost
29 November 2011
The European Union has set aside Sh276 million for the rehabilitation of the Mau forest even as the Lands Ministry seeks land to resettle those evicted from the water tower.
The cash, which will be spread over three years, will be invested to improve the livelihoods of local communities and monitor storage of carbon in the northern Mau.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Nairobi Tuesday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga vowed to continue pushing for rehabilitation of the Mau even if it puts his career at risk.
"No matter what it takes, even if it breaks political careers, we must move on and secure our forests," he said.
He spoke of government plans to set up a body, the Kenya Water Towers Agency, to oversee conservation of key forests.
The 2009 eviction of families from Mau raised political temperatures, antagonising Mr Odinga with some members of his ODM party especially from the Rift Valley led by Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
Mr Ruto and his allies have fallen out with Mr Odinga and did not participate in the ongoing ODM grassroots election.
Lands minister James Orengo said his Ministry had been allocated Sh1billion for resettlement of the Mau evictees as well as those kicked out of Mt Elgon and Embobut forests.
However, he said that purchase of land had been derailed by elaborate procurement processes and concerns by host communities.
"People with prime land around the Mau are not willing to sell it at government rates. To avoid conflicts, we are talking to communities where we have identified land to accommodate the evictees," he said.
Mr Orengo also asked the Treasury to release Sh4billion set aside for the resettlement of homeless families, including victims of the post-election violence.
Others at the ceremony were ministers Noah Wekesa (Forestry), William ole Ntimama (Heritage), Unep executive director Achim Steiner, head of the European delegation to Kenya Bernard Rey and Hassan Noor, the chief coordinator of the the Mau Rehabilitation Task Force.
Mr Noor indicated that over 21,000 hectares of forest have been recovered in Phases One and Two of the scheme.
The secretariat is implementing Phase Three which will see recovery of 20,000 hectares in the Maasai Mau trust land forest.
According to Mr Noor, those living in the section have already been profiled to assess the validity of their land documents to establish whether they qualify for compensation.
A total of 44 title deeds have been surrendered with no claim for compensation.
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Coast Week (Kenya): Government plans body to manage Mau water tower
29 November 2011
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Tuesday the government is set to create a Water Tower Authority to lead in the conservation of environment in the country.
"We already have Water Towers Conservation Fund and we are now set to increases budget allocation for sustainable rural environment management and the rehabilitation and conservation of water towers in the country," Odinga said when he launched the 2.3 million Euros European Union (EU) funded Northern Mau Forest project in Nairobi.
The PM noted that the EU funding is set to help in supporting watershed protection and climate change adaptation programme in an equitable, efficient and transparent manner, adding that the government will ensure that the funds are used strictly for the intended purpose.
Odinga assured the donors that the government is keen at making Kenya a country to emulate by other countries through its environment conservation efforts, adding that plans are underway to ensure that the temperatures does not exceed the two degrees Celsius limit set by climate scientists.
"Vision 2030 mandates us to increase our forest cover to four percent by the year 2012 and also identifies rehabilitation of the five water towers as a flagship to attaining the goals," he added.
Odinga noted that by the devolution system of governance in the management of natural resources as contained in the Water Act 2002, the Forest Act 2005 and the new
constitution, environmental conservation and management is fast changing in the country.
He observed that climate change is real, adding that the country is caught in the trouble given the rate of food insecurity and environmental degradation.
"In Northern Kenya where people were calling for help due to drought, today they are calling for help again due to floods that is already destroying their land. A few months ago we feared for crops in North Rift region, but today lots of maize are marooned in the farms by heavy downpour," he noted.
The Mau Forest complex in Kenya‘s Rift Valley Province is home to the indigenous Ogiek, and settler communities like the Kipsigis and Maasai. The resettlement of evictees from Kenya‘s Mau Forest remains a humanitarian and environmental concern for the country as more than 25,000 people continue to live in camps around the forest.
The Charge de Affaires and Head of Operations at the EU delegation in Kenya Dr. Benard Rey said that the new three year intervention is set to deliver multiple benefits for Kenya and the regional countries at large.
"The project will range from restoration of vital water catchments and establishments of payments for environmental services towards the improvement of the people livelihoods and monitoring carbon storage in the Mau Forest," he added.
Rey said the EU is concerned with the conservation of Mau Forest because it is the largest closed canopy forest in sub- Saharan Africa with assets estimated at 1. 5 billion U.S. dollars per year.
Rey said that the EU is financing the project due to the fact that it has a number of innovative approaches that will contribute to national and international goals like the Kenya Climate Change Response Strategy and National REDD strategy.
"The Mau complex is a living example where economy and environment intersect and will benefit the rest of the world in achieving solutions that balance poverty reduction and environmental sustainability," he added.
Rey also revealed that the success of the project will inform the ongoing deliberations with the government on how the 20 million Euros for water shade protection and climate change adaptation programme for the water towers will be spent.
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said that Kenya and the neighbouring countries that rely on water from Mau complex are unable to produce enough food and clean water for domestic use due to the degradation that took place in the water catchment area.
He warned that Kenya‘s vision 2030 can only succeed once the Mau complex is restored since it has the potential for producing energy.
"The Mau Forest complex supports energy, tourism and agriculture and industries in Rift Valley and Western Kenya," he added.
The EU and the Danish government have earlier made a pledge of 22.3 million dollars for the conservation of Kenya‘s water towers and other critical ecosystems through the community Development Trust Fund (CDTF). Already 97 projects have been approved to be implemented by the community.
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Capital FM (Kenya): UNEP, Kenya in Sh270m Mau rehabilitation plan
29 November 2011
The government in partnership with the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Tuesday launched a new three year intervention plan to rehabilitate Northern Mau forest.
This will be done at a cost of Sh274 million funded by the EU and implemented by the Kenyan government and UNEP.
The project is expected to provide multiple benefits for Kenya and the region ranging from restoration of vital water catchments, establishment of payments for environmental services to improving the livelihoods of local communities and monitoring carbon storage in the Mau Forest.
―We can no longer argue about the wisdom of investing in the conservation of our forests. We cannot carry on business as usual without paying a very heavy price,‖ remarked
Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The project aims at supporting the rehabilitation of the Mau forest ecosystem to create a sustainable basis for its long-term conservation and management.
It will also give an opportunity for Kenya to pilot mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD) by establishing an environmental monitoring system to quantify the carbon storage of the Mau forest, which may also be used to generate future additional resources from carbon credits.
―We launch this as climate talks open in Durban, South Africa. The solution is not just to educate the farmer, it is also to adapt to these changes,‖ the Prime Minister said.
The Mau Forest Complex is important for water catchment not only in Kenya but also the region as its forests form the upper catchments of 12 main rivers that drain into five major lakes namely Baringo, Nakuru, Natron, Turkana, and Victoria.
The government embarked on the Mau forest restoration plan in mid 2008 following widespread encroachment and de-gazettement of forest reserves leading to the loss of 25 percent of the Mau forest which covers over 400,000 hectares.
―The Mau Forest Complex supports key economic sectors in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya – from energy and tourism to agriculture and industries. The project responds to the immediate needs of government, business and civil society to regulate the use of
natural resources through a combination of economic incentives and voluntary measures,‖ said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Steiner noted that this project would place Kenya on the path towards a green economy for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
EU Head of Operations in Kenya, Bernard Rey said; ―The EU has started deliberations with the Government of Kenya to develop a Watershed Protection and Climate Change Adaptation programme. This programme would deal with some of the root causes of the declining water flows from Kenya‘s water sources, such as forest excisions, weak institutional capacities and adverse impacts of climate change.‖
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Ghana Business News (Ghana): African youth call for more justice in Climate Change negotiations
29 November 2011
Young African delegates gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, have called on leaders of the World to deliver an outcome that would ensure climate, ecological, economical and gender justice at the 17th Climate Change Conference in Durban.
The youth from all sub regions in Africa who met Monday at a three-day landmark summit to discuss and consolidate their position on issues bothering on climate change, acknowledged that climate change impacts threaten Africa‘s food security, health, lands,
seeds, rights, natural resources and livelihoods.
Stating that it also presents imminent discrimination and violence against women and other vulnerable groups through forced migrations, loss of natural resources, and therefore the basis for their survival, the youth also called on their leaders to set the conditions that will be mutually beneficial for the creation of green and decent jobs, and allow them to take advantage of the broad spectrum of green jobs.
The youth specifically discussed how they could influence policies that ensure that consumers are more carbon conscious and embrace more sustainable lifestyles; opportunities for green job creation; how to make worthwhile energy efficient choices; and the power of social networking, to mobilising communities and awaken world leaders towards more effective sustainable development options.
In a statement at the end of their deliberation, the African Youth recognised that their unemployment predicament can be tackled by a green economy, which can generate more and better jobs that would contribute to an acceleration of sustainable development.
The statement, which builds on the Bandung Declaration adopted at the UNEP Tunza International Children and Youth Conference that was held from 27 September to 1 October 2011 in Indonesia, further recognised that education is the cornerstone of human existence, and that as capacity building at all levels is of key importance, the