This week marks a good number of global events all geared towards preserving, protecting and conserving, educating and enlisting an interest in and celebrating the natural world; our natural resources and wild life forms. World Sparrow Day (20th March), International Day of Forests, World Planting Day and World Wood Day all on 21st March, World Water Day (22nd March) and Earth Hour (24th March 8.30pm -9.30pm) are all commemorated within one week this year.
Forests and water are very much connected unlike what was once said as seen in my previous guest post here. The fact is, with no forest cover, we will definitely not have surface water, ground-water, rivers and any other valuable and clean fresh water sources, thus forests provide a key watershed-based ecosystem service. With no forest cover the probability of drought will be inevitable as clearly put here. What our country is currently experiencing is a lack of interest, to some extent knowledge, and little to no political goodwill, otherwise referred to as greed, impunity and corruption, leading to deforestation in major water towers, in some cases even cutting down trees to erect billboards. The Aberdare Forest Range, one of Kenya’s five water towers, has had a part of it engulfed in forest fires this year leading to the loss of massive hectares of forest cover.
These are the challenges we are currently facing in the environmental sector. However, this is not a post meant to dishearten anyone on the losses our country is facing in terms of our forest cover. There are many good things happening in our country with stakeholders and concerned parties and most definitely youth concerned and involved in conservation and environmental issues, making it a point to make a difference and be the change. There are many forest associations involved in protecting forests and also by having tree seedling nurseries to encourage tree planting countrywide and the youth, government and corporate institutions who are actively involved in tree planting activities. We should note that Kenya’s Forest Cover has increased by 5.3% in the last four years.
Other than being a global water source, forests are home to wild animal species; birds, mammals, insects and even snakes. World Sparrow Day is a day set to commemorate the House Sparrow. This is a sparrow that mostly inhabits urban areas as seen in my ‘Town Birds Series’. Having trees in the urban centres creates a habitat for the sparrow to survive in the city.
According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the forested watershed is an outstandingly stable hydrological system in comparison to other land uses such as farming, and grazing and this system strongly influences the quantity and quality of water yielded from watersheds, stabilises soil and prevent gully and surface erosion and the sediment transport is reduced to the minimum.
Globally, 75% of the freshwater supply comes from forested catchments (water towers), therefore, water is critically linked to forests. The water storage function of the forests is significantly higher than the potential timber value of the forests. The forest cover reduces the maintenance costs of water treatment by providing quality clean drinking water to millions of people.
With all these events, it is honourable to take part in this year’s Earth Hour happening on the 24th of March. This is a chance for anyone and everyone to pledge to make a difference in their daily lives by basically monitoring one’s ecological footprint. This typically means monitoring what you use from food, mode of transport and electricity to the amount of waste one generates as an individual, household and places of work/school.
We should all remember without insects, in particular, if bees were to be driven to extinction, we would undoubtedly die and the human race would be an extinct species. In retrospect, if we become extinct and leave the earth and the natural resources as they are, everything else, without our existence, will definitely thrive.
Pledge to grow trees (not only plant them), monitor your ecological footprint and be a thoughtful citizen, always being mindful of not only the human race but all other species (plant, animal, fungi and even bacteria) as well as the future generation.
You can make a lot of speeches, but the real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water, and make it survive. That’s what makes the difference – Wangari Maathai