Pressures on biodiversity

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The major threats to biological diversity in Kenya can be defined as: high population pressure; escalating poverty and conflicts; poor land use practices; uncoordinated laws, policies and institutional framework; poor education and inadequate involvement of the community. Other threats are invasive species (e.g. Nile perch and water hyacinth in Lake Victoria), land degradation and pollution, occasioned by poor land use practices. In addition, the tourism industry is encroaching on the fragile marine and coastal areas with the development of new hotels and access infrastructure.

Many live below US $1.00/day with no alternative means of livelihoods. Also, the lack of clear land policy has led to land adjudication into fragile ecosystems with rich biodiversity (e.g. forest reserves, wetland areas) where no buffer zones exist for mitigating the effects of nearby development. Moreover, the narrow genetic base of the country’s biological resources that is found only in a few plant and animal species have put entire ecosystems and their biological diversity in danger of being overexploited, thus exposing entire ecosystems to degradation.

Rapid human population growth and the subsequent forest degradation threaten biodiversity and may cause
habitat fragmentation or in extreme cases, species extinction. Habitat fragmentation is the process where large continuous areas are reduced in size and divided into two or more patches. It alters habitats from a previous state of greater continuity, stability and harmony. Biodiversity in Kenya also suffers indirect effects of agricultural management practices such as irrigation and drainage, soil erosion, and sedimentation. Further, fertilizer application, weed and pest control all result in elevated nutrient and pollutant discharges into the environment. Biopiracy and poaching are also challenges facing biodiversity in Kenya.

Climate change is increasingly contributing to biodiversity degradation on Kenya’s coast composed of fragile forest and grassland ecosystems which more frequently experience mild to severe drought. Actions are not yet underway to mitigate the effects of climate change; consequently, both the biodiversity and communities remain vulnerable.

Source: Economic affairs