Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Mt. Kenya

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Mount Kenya has been described as one of the most impressive landscape features in East Africa. In addition to its beauty and value for timber, farmland, and tourism, it is a critical water catchment for Kenya and crucial to hydro-power generation on the Tana River. Depending on altitude and rainfall, there are a variety of different ecosystems on Mount Kenya, which are visible to some degree as various shades of green in the 2007 satellite image above.

After independence in 1963, the Kenyan government encouraged settlement of the Mount Kenya region and over a period of roughly forty years population increased ten-fold. In the late 1990s it was recognized that this intense population growth, along with misuse of non-resident cultivation policies, (see photo below) illegal charcoal production, illegal forestry, and marijuana cultivation were threatening the future of Mount Kenya. New policies and improved enforcement have significantly reduced unsustainable exploitation of the mountain's forests.

Continued monitoring and management of this majestic mountain is aimed at maintaining its immeasurable value for future generations. Sustainable uses such as eco-tourism help provide employment without undermining the essential ecosystem functions and invaluable biodiversity of this natural asset.

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