REPORTS FROM THE
Lambrechts helps in conserving highlands environment
is endowed with several beautiful landscapes
that should not be lost to the degradation
REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENT Peter
(Xinhua) -- He has two degrees in civil
engineering and International Law but his passion for
environmental conservation overrides his specialized
field of training.
has never worked as a forester or as botanist either
but has a lot of interest in environmental
conservation that spans many years.
Christian Lambrechts, a former employee with UN
Environmental Program (UNEP) currently the Executive
Director of Rhino Ark Charitable Trust.
passion largely shows that, individuals in their own
rights can make changes that in the end results into
huge impact that could save the coming generation.
at the UNEP in Nairobi as a Policy and Program Officer
at the Division of Early Warning and Assessment,
Lambrecht’s love for camping and talking to the
local people whenever he goes is deemed to have
contributed immensely to the environmental
conservation in recent times.
was camping near the foot of Mount Kenya forest in
1995 at Gatamayu – South of the Abardares
Fisheries Camp when I overheard lots of power saw
making noise in the middle of the night,” he
noise in the wee hours of the night is today
remembered as the awakening call for environmental
conservation of the water towers in the country.
following morning Lambrechts asked the camp Manager
David Ndeti what was happening near his camp and the
Manager told him that they were loggers who are
logging at night to escape arrest from the government
too appeared disturbed by the night operations that
he said had started way back in 1988,” Lambrechts
incident touched Lambrechts forcing him to share this
information with some of his friends and he started a
move to help save the forest from depletion.
paid for a plane and overflew the area for 56 hours
with conservationist Mr. Bongo Woodley trying to
unearth the root cause and to what level the damage
conducting his survey with his moving map – GIS and
upon releasing his report to the government and
stakeholder, the forest was gazetted as a national
reserve in July 2000.
spent on 18,000 U.S. dollars to help change the
status of Mount Kenya forest,” Lambrechts said
during an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Nairobi
applied the same idea for Mount Kilimanjaro and
Abardares Forest. However his report on Abardares took
long to implement due to unwillingness with certain
individuals within the government.
come the Mau excision that was undertaken by the
government. Here too Lambrechts thought something
needed to be done to help conserve the giant water
tower of Kenya.
flew over Mau forest the same weekend the government
excised the parcels of land in February 2001 to
capture the status and share out the findings with
the stakeholders,” he added.
called a press conference that was attended by
officials from the Ministries of Lands, Tourism and
Environment where he revealed his findings.
process never made any changes as there was neither
serious intervention nor willingness to rescind the
decision and also stop further excision of the water
tower,” he revealed.
2008 the Director General of UNEP Achim Steiner
reintroduced the topic amongst the government cycles
given that there was a change is government with the
coming to power of the NARC government.
arranged a meeting with the then Minister for
Environment the late John Michuki where he was shown
the activities that were going on the Mau, Nairobi
River and Marmanet forests,” he noted.
simply asked for a briefing note and the conservation
efforts of the two forests started in earnest.
major meeting that was convened by former Prime
Minister Raila Odinga and attended by policy makers,
environmental experts and politicians bordering the
Mau forest followed immediately.
listening to the presentations and seeing the
pictures, Odinga directed that they fly on top of Mau
forest to see firsthand what they have seen.
moving maps sold the idea and helped fixed the long
awaited Mau conservation efforts,” Lambrechts
850 report that was prepared by thereafter was later
on adopted by parliament, the Cabinet and is being
implemented in phases to date. In his report after
seeing the damage, Odinga asked Lambrechts to be part
of the task force, a move that surprised Steiner.
was surprised by the move because UNEP had pursued
the matter for many years without success and was
now seeing a complete change of heart by the
government,” he said.
noted that the exercise started but not without drama
as those who had acquired the land illegally put up a
defense through court cases and the media.
Abardares, Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and Mau,
Lambrechts too help survey Kisia hills, Maasai Mau and
Kyulu hills ecosystem.
efforts were a success while others were not because
all depends on the commitment of the government
towards conservation efforts,” he added.
Lambrechts is full of praise for the former Tanzanian
Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and the former Kenya
Wildlife Service (KWS) Dr. Richard Leakey, terming
them as champions of conservation in the region.
said that Kenya is endowed with several beautiful
landscapes that should not be lost to the degradation.
are dependent on environment, our life is
conditioned by weather and climate and we must not
forget this direct contact with the environment,”
called on Kenyans to travel and take pictures to be
able to know the beauty of the country to enable them
make a difference at individual level.
is a strong believer of doing things right with the
good attitude at the right moment and not being a hero
for the sake of heroism. He noted that lots more can
be done with little money and not necessarily large
sums of donor funding.
is important and the people need to remind the
government on matters of conservation whenever they
see things going bad,” he added.
his efforts in environmental conservation that led to
the formation of the Kenya Water Tower Agency,
Lambrechts resigned from UNEP in June 2012 to take up
appointment as the Executive Director of Rhino Ark
Charitable Trust even though he had a permanent
contract till his retirement.
total the agency will look into the 18 water towers,
five major towers and 13 small water towers that
traverse the whole country.
who will continue serving the Mau course as the
Technical Advisor revealed that the forest cover is in
a position to earning Kenya shillings 110 billion from
investments if used well.
his stint at UNEP Lambrechts represented the UN body
at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings;
preparing papers on emerging issues in Antarctica;
preparing the UN Secretary-General report on the
Question of Antarctica; assessment of the state of the
world cryosphere; application of assessment
methodologies at local level and monitoring of East
African forest ecosystems.
was also responsible for forest fires, refugee and the
environment; Antarctica and the Arctic; Middle East
did his Bachelor degree at Universite Catholique de
Louvain- la-Neuve (Belgium) in 1986 and his Masters
Degree at Katholieke Universiteit van Leuven
(Belgium), in 1989.
further did his post graduate degree in international
law at Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden (Netherlands) in
working for UNEP Lambrechts is also a legal adviser to
the Belgian Navy on issues pertaining to the
protection of the marine environment.
has drafted guidelines and training manual for the
implementation of the 1973/78 Marpol Convention.
Lambrechts who is a Belgian national is married with
water official promises to
raise forest cover to 10 per cent
(Xinhua)-- The Chairman of Kenya Water
Towers Agency, Isaac Kalua has promised to continue
conserving the country’s forests by planting over 6
billion trees in order raise the forest cover that
currently stands at less than 10 percent.
who was recently appointed to head the agency and who
through his Green Africa Foundation has spearheaded
the planting of over 5 million trees, has been tasked
with coordinating and overseeing the restoration of
the water towers in Kenya for the next 3 years in
order to arrest increasing deforestation.
on his to do list are the protection, resource
mobilization, and community livelihood support and
ecosystem monitoring of all the 18 water towers whose
forests contribute about 3.6 per cent of Kenya’s
Gross Domestic Product.
such figures in mind, it should be clear to everyone
that the battle to conserve our forests is essential
because the country’s entire main economic sectors
namely agriculture, tourism and energy depend
extensively on the environment,” Kalua told Xinhua
has 18 water towers with the five key ones namely
Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Forest
Complex, Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills, being
the main water catchments for nearly all of the
country’s main rivers.
2010, the cumulative negative effect of
deforestation on the economy through reduction in
regulating services was an estimated 4.3 billion
dollars per year, which is more than four times the
cash revenue of deforestation, whereas decreased
river flows in the dry season the same year reduced
water supply to irrigation agriculture at a cost of
1.8 billion dollars to the sector,” says Kalua.
says the deforestation on the water towers has
impacted an estimated 30,000 hectares leading to a
reduction in water availability of 62 cubic meters per
year whereas the reduction in river flows reduced
hydropower generation by about 100,000 dollars, which
had a resultant effect on the rest of the economy
through power shortages.
wet-season flows led to erosion and sedimentation that
resulted in a loss of productive soil resources, which
in turn increased nutrient content in fresh water
systems, causing siltation and increase in turbidity
of water supplies.
reduction in water quality reduced inland fish catch
by one million dollars and increased the cost of water
treatment for clean use by 2.3 million dollars in
2010, while incidences of malaria as a result of
deforestation cost Kenya 2.8 million dollars in the
form of health costs to the government as well as
resulting into loss of labor productivity.
agency was gazette in April 2012 with a view to
expanding efforts and ensuring harmonized, efficient
and effective management of all water towers and has,
in conjunction with partners possessed more than
21,000 hectares of Mau forest land and rehabilitated
over 10,000 hectares over the past one-and-a- half
was selected as head of the organization owing to his
background as an environmentalist and possessing the
knowledge and experience in matters relating to good
governance and management of public resources.
the CEO of the 35th World Cross Country Championships
which Kenya hosted in 2007 in the port city of
Mombasa, Kalua’s foundation provided the organizers
of the event with 500,000 trees after calculating that
the carbon dioxide emissions at the championships that
would be incurred through air flights would total 2.9
offset six tonnes of carbon dioxide, one hectare of
trees is needed with a total population of 1,000
trees per hectare annually. Thus 478,694 trees were
needed to counter the carbon dioxide as a result of
the event,” Kalua told Xinhua.
Africa’s commitment of half a million trees coupled
with United Nations Environmental Program’s (UNEP)
50,000 trees offered the safest cross country from
the previous edition in Fukuoka, Japan, while
attending the games to understudy organizational
aspects, Kalua registered his displeasure with the
organizers that wooden poles, which suggested that
trees had been cut down, were being used as pegs to
mark the running course.
for the first time and with the approval of the IAAF,
plastic poles with pins were used during the Mombasa
event and have been used in subsequent championships
instead of wooden posts. “
said the pins facilitate ease with which the poles
would be fixed to the ground and thereby minimizing
any adverse effects on flora and fauna.
May, Kalua hosted the then President Mwai Kibaki; who
has twice recognized him due to his concerted efforts
in environmental conservation,
in his home in Kitui County of eastern Kenya
during the launch of the national tree planting
this year, the Japanese government through its Grant
Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP)
granted his organization 96,000 dollars to complete a
water project that will benefit over 8,000 people in
arid eastern Kenya.
says that preventing further destruction of Kenya’s
forests and wetlands is one of the most elegant and
cost-effective ways to combat climate change, create
jobs and wealth, and ensure water and food security.
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