UNEP Releases Report on the Costs of Deforestation to the Kenyan Economy

UNEP5 November 2012: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Kenya Forest Service have launched a report on the impacts of deforestation on the Kenyan economy. The report, which is titled “The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy,” quantifies the negative effects of deforestation and formulates recommendations, including mainstreaming payment for ecosystem services.

According to UNEP, Kenya's five water towers the Mau Forest Complex, Mount Kenya, the Aberdares, Mount Elgon and Cherangani, contribute over 75% of the country's renewable water sources annually. According to the report, deforestation deprived Kenya's economy of US$68 million in 2010, significantly outstripping the economic contribution from forestry and logging each year.

The 49-page report outlines the negative economic consequences of deforestation, including: decreased river flows in dry season reducing water supply to irrigation agriculture; a 12 million Kenyan shilling reduction in hydropower generation; increased wet-season flows lead to erosion and sedimentation, resulting in a loss of productive soil resources; increased incidence of malaria as a result of deforestation; and above-ground carbon storage value forgone through deforestation estimated at 511 million Kenyan shillings in 2010.

The report's recommendations for sustainable forest management include: selective thinning regimes; protection against uncontrolled settlements; adequate allocation and policing of water withdrawals; improved management of degraded land; stronger regulation of forest use; ensure adequate regeneration after harvest and an increased forest plantation growth in the long term; mainstream instruments and incentives such as payment for ecosystem services, trading and insurance schemes; and make use of carbon trading schemes. [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [Reliefweb Press Release] [Publication: The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy]