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Monday, 24 November 2014

The importance of biodiversity conservation

Source: Laikipia Mali Asili
The more types of plant and animals present in the environment, the healthier that environment is for both human and animal populations. The variety of animal and plant types, which is referred to as biodiversity, is reduced when conditions develop that make it impossible for some species to survive. Such conditions can be created by excessive use of chemicals aimed at killing weeds or pests, which also end up killing species that are beneficial to human beings, animals and agricultural crops.
These beneficial species include bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators. Within Laikipia County, there are a number of Projects focusing on promotion of biodiversity in different ways.
Section of rehabilitated forest in Laikipia
Maintaining high levels of biodiversity has many benefits. For example, elimination of harmful chemicals results in increase of pollinators such as bees and other useful insects. This enables more people to get involved in activities relying on some of them such as bee keeping (apiary) for income. The quality of trees and other vegetation also improves because pollination ensures the production of better adapted varieties of plants.
It is important to note that biodiversity refers not only to plants and animals available in our surroundings but also organisms that live in the soil such as earthworms and even micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi. These microbes aid in the decomposition of plant materials to release useful nutrients for plants.
Another factor that is threatening biodiversity is climate change. Climate change is the significant change of the average temperatures over period longer than 30 years, causing changes in weather patterns and a (slow) rise in sea level, among other impacts. According to the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), key climate change impacts for Kenya are drought and water scarcity, flooding and sea-level rise.
Research suggests that temperatures will continue to increase, and the frequency of hot days and nights will rise. Precipitation is expected to increase in some areas, with the largest rise in rainfall occurring in the highland and coastal regions.
However, the greater part of the country comprising the arid and semi-arid regions is expected to become significantly drier. When climate patterns change, it is expected that plants and animals species which only survives on cooler regions will disappear while new species suited to warmer climates will replace them.
Laikipia Mali Asili is a voice for people promoting sustainable land management practices in Laikipia County. You can download a copy of Laikipia Mali Asili newsletter here
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