Kenyan Wetlands Endangered by Mining, Flower-Farming, UN Says

Kenya’s wetlands must be better protected from manmade risks including the diversion of water for agriculture and pollution from urbanization, the United Nations said.

Areas under threat include the western Lake Victoria North Basin Wetlands, where parts are being developed for mining or farming, and the Rift Valley Basin Wetlands, the UN Environment Programme said today, citing the new Kenya Wetlands Atlas.

Wetlands are degrading more rapidly than other ecosystems because policy makers misunderstand their role in supporting animal and plant life and storing carbon, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement in Nairobi. Kenya is improving policy to protect wetlands, Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu said in the statement.

The Rift Valley Basin Wetlands contain Lake Naivasha, which is designated a Wetland of International Importance and is facing pressure from water-intensive flower farming, UNEP said.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, is a major flower producer that sells to Europe. The country relies on agriculture for a fifth of its economic output, and is the world’s biggest exporter of black tea.

The government may consider adopting a wetlands law and classifying more sites as protected, according to the UN, which helped compile the wetlands atlas.

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