PhD Candidate, University of Nairobi
Recent major Peatlands degradation in Kenya: Impacts on Climate Change, Biodiversity and communities
Most Peatlands that exist today formed in the last 10,000 years since the last ice age. Since the onset of the holocene epoch, peatlands have absorbed an estimated 1.2 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide, whose net effect has been the a cooling effect of the globe. Degradation of these carbon sinks over the last 100 years has turned a sizeable number of these sinks into sources of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. The inventory status of peatlands in Kenya is largely insufficient and inadequate. Peatlands are arguably the most significant terrestrial ecosystems for mitigation of climate change. Besides matters climate, peatlands are also very important considering the millions of people who rely on them for their livelihoods. The 'plants' 'water' and 'peat' in a peat land are normally connected and inter-depended in one way or another. Thus this makes the paetlands vulnerable to man's activities on either of the peatlands' constituent water or plant component. These lands are also habitats to a tremendous number of flora and fauna. The plants in these ecosystems are distinct and some of the animals often rare. The peatlands in the tropics are characterized by trees and canopies thus it is possible to map them using satellite images and field ground-truthing at the regional level. This work is a synthesis of the degradation of the major peatlands within Kenya, both during the holocene and the current ‘anthropocene’ epochs. An attempt is made to delve into the effects of the now degraded previous carbon sinks with regard to the global warming, hence changing climate, as well as flora and fauna thereof. Lastly its nexus with the food security pertaining the local communities is also researched.
Abstract: Publication date: September 2017 Source:Global Environmental Change, Volume 46 Author(s): Rachel Carmenta, Aiora Zabala, Willy Daeli, Jacob Phelps Across leading environmental challenges—fire management, climate change, deforestation – there is growing awareness of the need to better account for diverse stakeholder perceptions across complex, multi-level governance arrangements. Perceptions often condition behavior, compliance and engagement in ways that impact environmental outcomes. We illustrate the importance of, and approaches to, examining perceptions across scales of governance (e.g. international, national, local) and sectors (e.g. civil society, government, corporate) through the example of Indonesian peatland fires. Peatlands are crucial global carbon stocks threatened by land use change and fire and subject to a range of policy interventions that affect many different stakeholder groups. Peatland drainage and conversion to plantation agriculture has been associated with severe, uncontrolled peat fires that present significant climate, public health and economic risks. Peatland fire management has become a domestic and international priority, spurring intensely contentious debates, policies and legal proceedings. Previous fire management interventions (FMI) are numerous yet have suffered widespread implementation failures. Against this backdrop, our manuscript provides a thematically and methodologically novel analysis of how diverse stakeholders, from local farmers to international policy makers, perceive peatland fires in terms of, i) how they prioritize the associated benefits and burdens, and ii) the perceived effectiveness of FMI. We adopt an innovative application of Q method to provide needed insights that serve to quantify the areas of contention and consensus that exist among the stakeholders and their multi-dimensional perspectives. We show that many of the contemporary FMI were perceived as among the most effective interventions overall, but were also the most controversial between groups. Clear consensus areas were related to the shared concerns for the local health impacts and the potential of government support for fire-free alternatives as a solution pathway. Improved understanding of stakeholder perceptions has potential to: give voice to marginalized communities; enable transparent mediation of diverse priorities; inform public education campaigns, and shape future policy and governance arrangements.
Pub.: 02 Sep '17, Pinned: 21 Dec '17