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for example, in the Maasai Mara ecosystem the human population is increasing 7 percent annually.  Protected areas and protection efforts that draw together local communities are making it possible for wildlife numbers – at least some species – to increase in some areas, while in other areas parks are being encroached on for livestock grazing, forest cutting, and agricultural use.  The capacity of the responsible agencies to continue protecting these areas – particularly the extensive, non-protected range areas of the wildlife they house – is in question, for many observers.

These trends in the wildlife sector are likely to have serious impacts on tourism revenues and, if trends go unchecked, vital species and globally important wild animal migrations could be lost forever from Kenya and perhaps the whole of East Africa.  Other forms of biodiversity, including plants, wetland inhabitants, and marine species, are beginning to receive more attention as well.  

Freshwater and coastal resources.  Freshwater and coastal ecosystems provide a multitude of rich resource for Kenyan livelihoods and the national economy. Kenya is endowed with richly diverse coral systems, which house and support critical fisheries and coastal stability.  A number of these aquatic systems are also international recognized for their unique ecological atributes and role in regional bird, wildlife, and marine species migrations.  But they are fragile systems, many only seasonally available, and most – 80 percent – are unprotected.  And water is under threat in Kenya.  Unsustainable extraction, pollution from agrochemicals and industrial waste, and sedimentation in dams and coastal outflow areas are increasing. For coastal areas, increasing pollution from inland sediments, oil shipping, industrial dumping, and expanding human waste streams is a serious concern.  Overextraction of coastal and marine resources and inadequate controls on tourism add to the pressure on reefs.  The population is growing most rapidly in water-rich areas, and competition for water is rising in wildlife areas, agricultural lands, and coastal areas.  Institutional responsibilities for ensuring protection of water is not adequatley invest in conservation agencies, and more importantly, they lack the mandate to draw other sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, industry, etc., into the discussion. Health impacts of degraded water quality are not well understood.  Thus integrated water resources management is largely absent. In the struggle for water, stronger forces usually win over weaker or subsistence-oriented proponents.  A new wetlands policy, now being drafted, may provide hope for the distant future.

Forests resources.  Forest conversion for agriculture, degazetting of protected forests for political reasons, fuelwood collection for domestic use and markets, excessive timber and non-timber product collection, and plantation mismanagement are rapidly depleting natural capital in Kenya.  Woodfuels provides an estimated 98 percent of all domestic fuel/energy resources in Kenya today, and population pressures add an enormous strain on those resources.  Forests provide Kenya's only watershed protection mechanism and when they are gone, downstream water quality will decrease and sedimentation and flooding will increase.  In addition to decreased density and acreage of native hardwood and indigenous fruit trees, the extent of coastal mangroves has decreased by an estimated 70 percent in this century.  Some farm-based tree resources are increasing, providing the future potential to lessen pressures on nearby forests, but to date this approach has been wholey inadequate in its use and replication. The opportunity to address increasing forest and tree resources in Kenya will have enormous repercussions on other regions and systems throughout the country, including soil fertility and retention, the health of streams and rivers, the productivity of coastal fisheries, habitat for plant and animal biodiversity, etc.  A new forests bill, recently released for comment, addresses some of the forces behind these trends, but its legal force is not expected to be implemented for years to come.

Agricultural and land resources.  Agriculture employs 70 percent of Kenya's workforce.  Due to the country's high population density, it only provides an average of 1/5 ha per rural inhabitant.  Thus agricultural resources are much in demand; all arable land is vulnerable to “grabbing” in Kenya’s current political climate. Currently, subdivision of commonly held lands and conversion of forests, wetlands, and drylands to permanent agricultural use is driving environmental degradation in many areas.  Traditional livelihoods, such as livestock management, are also constrained by the need for grazing areas, water scarcity and competition for water resources, and low market values. Official land use and tenure policies are ambiguous and do not support

Kara PagePage 410/23/2006

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