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Campaign against Eucalyptus an ecological doom

30 January 2013, 17:09Ngarae Elias

A fresh campaign against the planting of the eucalyptus tree species in central Kenya might spell an ecological disaster to the Aberdares and Mt Kenya water towers, the Kenya Forest Service warned.

The conservation body says the species accounts for 70 percent of wood fuel consumed in central Kenya and eliminating it would add more pressure to the two major forests.

"Central Kenya alone needs about 10 million trees annually since wood fuel is the main source of energy for the bigger portion of the population," the head of of the Central Highland Conservancy John Wachihi said.

According to Wachihi, the region has a population of about five million people with each of them estimated to consume a cubic metre of wood fuel per year.

There are more than 20 tea factories that also use wood to process tea.

"Telling people not to plant eucalyptus will turn out to be an ecological disaster for the two mountains, but what we have been insisting is that the trees, like other crops such as arrow roots, sugarcane and bananas, should not be planted on rivers because they also consume a lot of water," Wachihi said during a workshop in Nanyuki.

Cultivation along the banks of the rivers originating from the Aberdares has led to the destruction of plants that clean water especially in coffee - growing areas of Murang'a county, he said.

Many land owners have in the recent years turned to planting the fast - maturing eucalyptus mainly to cash in on the increasing demand for cheaper energy and electricity poles.

But conservationists have been divided over whether this particular tree species destroys the environment or not, with proponents giving the example of Brazil and South Africa where eucalyptus farming has proved to be a viable business for farmers.

 
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