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Why we should adopt more environmentally friendly ways of demonstrating PDF Print E-mail

The legacy left by the late Wangari Maathai who died late last year as heroine after being crowned a key environmentalist in the world, is one of the greatest honors a country like Kenya has ever received and will never fade as this will always remain in the books of history.
Wangari Maathai, who was crowned the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for being a key player in the environment conservation sector, always appeared on the front line spreading the gospel on the importance of conserving the forests and vegetation and took part in a chain of events where she led and participated in tree planting activities countrywide in ensuring the Kenyan nature and beauty remained intact.

Her death, however, turned the entire Kenyan country into a mourning nation engulfed in great shock, a move which saw several streets, schools and hospitals named after her. The government bestowed on her great honour when, during her days of mourning, all the government institutions had the flag raised at half mast.

Her love for trees remained even in her grave after she suggested that upon her death, the trees should never be tampered with and therefore her coffin was made of reeds, a move which shocked many as her remains were laid to rest in a coffin made of reeds. What a love for trees!
Why 71 will never be forgotten in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife history

The number 71 found a place in the Kenyan history books but especially in the Forestry sector where Wangari’s effort created the biggest impact; the late Nobel Peace Laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai passed on at the age of 71. The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) which has 71 Forest Zones, therefore planted 71 trees in each Zone in honour of the environmental champion.

The Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, Hon. Noah Wekesa, the KFS Director, Mr. David Mbugua and the Forestry and Wildlife PS, Mohammed Wa-Mwachai among others, have always been on the frontline urging local communities to embrace tree planting as it is a vital contributor to the country’s economy and have also embraced the move to partner with Green Africa Foundation in starting a tree planting programme in learning institutions in honour of the late Hon. Prof. Wangari Maathai with a view of at least planting 5.6 million trees in the republic of Kenya, a matter that deserves a big thumps up.

Although the Kenyan government has also been very vibrant, taking action and acting swiftly upon those found felling trees in the forests illegally for charcoal and timber, a very notorious group has totally been forgotten and always gone untouched despite being the key environment destructors who have always done it openly.

I wonder how the late Wangari would feel if she arose from her grave and saw how protesters pounce on trees, breaking branches and have ‘marching forests’ along the streets in the name of demonstrations!

Hundreds and thousands of rioting students, angry residents, participants in circumcision celebrations, football fans, protesting workers, name it all, will be seen waving very healthy tree branches and later dump them after their events without the thought of replacing the already destroyed plants.
Who said that demonstrators and celebrators must destroy the beauty of our nature by using tree branches to pass their messages of which some are malicious!

It is ironical that all this destruction has been taking place in front of the government’s eyes but very little has been done so far to curb the culture which has now become very rampant.
There are cases of demonstrations worldwide with those of the developed countries having respect to the vegetation and the environment. What we see is people waving placards with the massages conveying the reasons for the demonstration. Can’t Kenyans save our forests and borrow the idea?

With the endless demonstrations and protests witnessed in the country, who accounts for the lost vegetation whose percentage is massive by the end of the year?
Will the nation achieve the target of having the 10% forest cover as indicated in vision 2030?
Development of a legal frame work should be put in place to ensure that the forests are conserved and that all citizens are informed on the need to conserve the existing vegetation.

Prof. Wangare Maathai at Karura Forest during the Environmental Soldier celebrations in June 2011

By Aoko George, Mombasa


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