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Destruction of forests a threat to human survival, cautions UN

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024 01:15 | By
David Cooper, the Executive Director of UN Biodiversity Convention
David Cooper, the Executive Director of UN Biodiversity Convention. PHOTO/Print

The apparent addiction among Kenyans to destroying forests for human settlements and production of charcoal is slowly creating an ecological disaster that poses a direct threat to human survival.

Kenyans continue to clear natural and other forests that are critical water towers, such as Mau Nyandarua and Mt Kenya, at times with the tacit approval of authorities.

David Cooper, the Executive Director of UN Biodiversity Convention, says widespread clearing of forests is destroying habitats for pollinating insects, such as bees, leading to reduced farm harvests of staple crops, such as maize, wheat and rice.

Face extinction

This has gradually led to famine, hunger and malnutrition, especially among children, which have often led to outbreak of life-threatening diseases.

Cooper was speaking to news reporters on the side-lines of a United Nations Environment Programme biodiversity conference at Gigiri UN complex in Nairobi.

He said the ICN has produced a list of pollinators that face extinction due to wanton destruction of trees and other natural habitats.

He was accompanied by UN Biodiversity Convention head of news David Ainsworth.

“One million animal species face extinction if urgent measures are not taken by year 2050,” Cooper warned. The quality of water Kenyans are consuming is heavily compromised and pose a threat to infections by a range of water-borne diseases. 

“The quality of food people are taking is also compromised because it is being produced using water that is at times heavily polluted,” he said.

Cooper said around the world, large-scale destruction of forests, such as it has occurred in Brazil, and widespread application of pesticides continue to eliminate a wide range of pollinators and their habitats leading to reduced food production.

Stella Paul, a trainer at Internews Journalism Network, says Brazil has set the best example in revering losses experienced through deforestation by embarking on a massive re-afforestation programme. The programme is spearheaded by President da Silva. She says deforestation has a key source of livelihood loss in many countries around the world.

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