Kenya’s efforts to conserve its water towers got a big boost on Wednesday after the Mau Forest Complex was admitted to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).
The QCC project was launched in 2015 during the 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.
An appeal was made to all 53 Commonwealth nations to contribute areas of indigenous forest to be preserved to mark Her Majesty the Queen's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
Since then, around 35 Commonwealth countries are planting new forests, with another ten countries in the process of finalising their submissions.
The pronouncement of support to the Mau Forest conservation efforts was conveyed to President Kenyatta in a letter from the Queen.
The boost comes at a time when the Mau Complex is facing tremendous human-induced pressures and destruction.
This has contributed to environmental disasters, loss of livelihoods, drought, water crisis, food shortage, reduced river flows, poor land productivity among others.
The Maasai Mau Forest block (water tower) is the most threated and degraded of the 22 forest blocks.
By supporting the Mau Complex under the QCC, Kenya hopes to accelerate the revival of the most extensive ecosystem and the most critical water tower covering approximately 455,000 hectares of land.
The Mau Forest Complex is home to 22 forest blocks.
Mau’s admission to the QCC will heighten efforts to protect, restore and rehabilitate some of its degraded areas while improving the general status of the water towers as well as creating and promoting alternative livelihood options to the surrounding communities.
The admission also presents an active link to the climate action agenda, falling between the Climate Action Summit 2019 and the Climate Change Conference (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 9-19, 2020. The news was welcomed by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.
“This is great news. The admission of MMF to the QCC is a clear confirmation by Her Majesty The Queen of Mau's importance as a vital ecological and biodiversity asset, not just for Kenya and the Region, but for the whole World," CS Tobiko said.
"The survival of the iconic Maasai Mara National Game Reserve as well as the entire Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem depends on the restoration and protection of Mau Forest Complex,” he added.
The first country to offer a QCC dedication was Singapore which dedicated six hectares of rainforest in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and 163 hectares of Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve forest in 2016.
The UK Government, through the National Forest Company, is committed to supporting the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.
In a new strategic framework agreed on Monday, the Kenya and UK governments made climate change of the pillars.