Land Rights, Forest Conservation Upheld as NEMA takes firm stand for sustainable development. It has been revealed that NEMA (Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority) took a firm stand for land rights, forest protection and sustainable development last year when it rejected a proposal to clear forest land northwest of Malindi for a plantation of Jatropha curcas, a biofuel crop.
“Congratulations to NEMA for standing up to its motto: “Our Environment. Our Life. Our Responsibility” said Ken Mwathe of BirdLife International Africa Secretariat.
The rejected project, proposed by an Italian-owned company, Kenya Jatropha Energy limited, wanted to clear 50,000 hectares of forest, bush and thicket in the Dakatcha Woodlands area in Bungale in Malindi County to plant Jatropha curcas, whose seeds produce oil that can be burned instead of diesel. However, a study commissioned by Nature Kenya, Action Aid and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK), found that jatropha from Dakatcha woodland would not be more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel. In fact, it would produce as much as six times more carbon emissions! In addition, clearing the forest, bush and thicket in this area of fragile soils and scarce water would lead to water shortages, soil erosion, food insecurity and loss of rare species of animals and plants. Local people risked losing their ancestral land.
“We congratulate NEMA for this wise decision to reject untested biofuel crops in an area of Trust Land and high biodiversity,” says Paul Matiku, Executive Director of Nature Kenya. “It is heartening to see NEMA’s decisions being guided by science. We thank NEMA and urge it to apply the same scientific criteria to proposed biofuel plantations in other sensitive areas such as the Tana River Delta.”