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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Water resources in Ilmamusi Mukogodo Forest facing extinction in the future

By Samali Letai
The majority of the population in Mukogodo area of Laikipia heavily relies on wood fuel as the household source of energy. This over dependency is a threat to the forest. Fossil based fuels are expensive and not environmentally friendly. Therefore, impacts on the environment and natural resources need to be closely monitored.
Mukogodo Forest ecosystem is well endowed with a rich variety of resources. Located in Laikipia North and sitting on a total land area of 280 square kilometres, the forest is famous for impressive biological diversity, socioeconomic and cultural significance.
It is a vital water catchment area, has high potential for tourism and recreational facilities and supports livelihoods of the adjacent communities through fuel wood, fodder for livestock, honey and herbs, and serves as an important resource for scientific research.
Mukogodo Forest ecosystem constitutes an important reservoir for biodiversity. Despite these attributes, the forest has faced threats over the last two decades from a range of human-related activities. These activities include illegal harvesting of timber, charcoal burning, and improper grazing.
A section of Ilmamusi Mukogodo Forest
Unsustainable tree harvesting leads to the destruction of the forest’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. Other factors include: poverty, inappropriate/ineffective government policies, erosion of traditional values and ignorance.
The impact of forest destruction is evident through drying up of formerly permanent water sources and changing of microclimatic conditions of the area. Over exploitation of the forest’s resources where extraction appears to exceed the rate of natural replenishment of the ecosystem, is largely to blame for the rapid rate at which the rangelands ecological integrity is being eroded.
In Makurian Group Ranch, increased dry climatic variations have led to inadequate water for domestic use and livestock watering. Most earth dams are silted because of increased erosion and sedimentation as a result of improper land use practices. Scarcity of water is also resulting in increased human-wildlife conflict.
Recommendation
Development of water points in the group ranches will bring about reduction of pressure on the usage of natural springs found within the forest reserve. Furthermore, the time will be limited for pastoralists taking their animals to drink water; they move to the forest early when pasture is still available in the group ranch.
There are eight water sources in the forest which are highly depended on by the community during dry seasons. Mostly, a large quantity of water from the sources is contaminated and is unhealthy for people and livestock. Through protection of these sources, clean water is guaranteed throughout the year for the four group ranches: Ilngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo, and Sieku Group ranch, surrounding the forest.
Samali Letai, is the Project Manager Ilmamusi Mukogodo Forest Association, Tel: 0724 740283 Email: Ilmamusiforest4@gmail.com
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