On 15th January 2020, Kenya received great news from the United Kingdom Government that the Mau forest Complex Water Tower had been admitted to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).
The admission means the largest water tower in east Africa will be part of highly-conserved forests like the Great Bear forest in Canada, Arboretum of Ruhande in Rwanda, Kawari Forest Reserve in Nigeria, Liwonde National Park in Malawi, Mt Elgon in Uganda among others across 53 countries in the Commonwealth countries.
The pronouncement was conveyed to President Uhuru Kenyatta in a letter from the Queen.
The boost comes at a time when the Water Tower is facing tremendous human-induced pressures and destruction. This has contributed to environmental disasters, loss of livelihoods, drought, water crisis, food shortage, reduced river flows and poor land productivity.
By supporting the Mau Complex Water Tower under the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, Kenya hopes to accelerate the revival of the most extensive ecosystem and the most critical water tower covering approximately 455,000 hectares of land. In 2018 and 2019, Kenya made great strides in reclaiming 3,500 hectares and 17,101 hectares respectively in Maasai Mau Water Tower that cumulatively covers an area of about 46,000 hectares.
The admission will heighten efforts to protect, restore and rehabilitate some of its degraded areas while improving the general status of the water tower as well as creating and promoting alternative livelihood options to the surrounding communities. It also presents an active link to the climate action agenda, falling between the Climate Action Summit 2019 and the Climate Change Conference (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 9-19, 2020. The news was welcomed by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko. “This is great news. The admission of MMF to the QCC is a clear confirmation by Her Majesty the Queen of Mau’s importance as a vital ecological and biodiversity asset, not just for Kenya and the Region, but for the whole World,” said Tobiko.
Kenya Water Towers Agency, the body that initiated the admission proposal equally received the news with joy. “This presents humongous opportunity for us at Kenya Water Towers Agency to leverage on the goodwill and resources that come with the admission to QCC so that we fully restore and conserve the Mau Complex Water Tower’, Prof Julius Tanui, Ag. Director General said upon receiving the good news.
The QCC project was launched in 2015 during the 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. An appeal was made to all 53 Commonwealth nations to contribute areas of indigenous forest to be preserved to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. Since then, around 35 Commonwealth countries are planting new forests, with another ten countries in the process of finalizing their submissions.