Environmental resources are important to Kenya’s socio-economic development. They support livelihood creation, ensure food security and support a safe and clean environment.
Environmental ecosystems in Lamu County are under enormous threats mainly from increasing anthropogenic activities and proposed large scale development projects. While the populations are extracting and using resources at an accelerated and unsustainable rate from a resource base that is vulnerable and finite, others have encroached on protected areas for speculation ready to cash in on anticipated demand for these properties.
These pressures on natural resources have been manifested in vegetation removal; land and water resources degradation and pollution; logging, overfishing and degradation of fish habitats; competition for use of aquatic space; and changes in atmospheric processes, such as climate change and its consequences.
To secure sustainable management of these resources, there is need for stakeholders to act in ways that maximize synergy and maintain a safe and productive environment. The benefits arising from the use of natural resources should be shared equitably and made available for future generations.
The Kenyan Government’s commitment to sound environmental management is spelt out in the Constitution of Kenya (2010) which legislates the citizen’s right to a clean and healthy environment and provides for protection of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
In addition, the national policy blueprint, Kenya Vision 2030, highlights the importance of sustainable utilization of natural resources in its social pillar. Vision 2013 seeks to build a just and cohesive society with social equity in a clean and secure environment. The Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) 1999 and its subsequent revision is a law that guides environmental impact assessment and audit.
WWF-Kenya in its support to sustainable management of natural resources undertook an Environment sensitivity atlas for the county of Lamu, mainly to map out sensitive areas that are vulnerable to negative impacts of human activities, infrastructural development and unsustainable use of resources. The ATLAS is expected to be used by different stakeholders to inform decision making.
Additionally, the sensitivity atlas has also been prepared to provide spatial planners with tools to identify resources at risk, establish protection priorities and identify appropriate response strategies. The infrastructure development process accompanying the LAPSSET and the discovery of oil and gas within the county poses great environmental challenges that will affect both terrestrial and marine resources.
This ATLAS can help identify sensitive areas that may be heavily be impacted by such development. It was recently used to inform and support the identification of Natural Capital Assets in Lamu and in Mapping out the Critical Biodiversity Areas that have formed part of the “asks” which has been considered in the draft Lamu County Spatial Plan.
The launch of the Lamu Environment sensitivity atlas was held on 9th August 2016 by the Lamu County Executive with H.E the Governor Issa Timamy in attendance. The governor commended WWF-Kenya and promised to support them in their work across different programs including marine, terrestrial, spatial planning and education for sustainable development.
Article by Nathan Kiiti/WWF-Kenya