Amazon forest fire
A section of the Amazon forest being consumed by wild fires

An ariel view of the Amazon rainforest indicates that the wild-fires which have been consuming ‘lungs of the earth’ at a rate of about three football fields every minute have now reached a tipping point.

The thick smoke, experts say, signals an endless scale of devastation that needs the world to do more if it is to save the health of this vital rainforest.

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And in response, the G7 countries offered  $20m (Ksh2billion) to help fight the fires. Initially, Brazil had appeared to reject the offer,  terming the gesture as a sign of imperialism and a colonial mindset by French President Emmanuel Macron, who was the host of this year’s G7  summit in Biarritz France.  

But in a twist, the country changed tune noting they are prepared to accept foreign aid to fight the fires, provided they are in control of the cash.

But even as the  Amazon fires rage on, the stark reality of the rampant deforestation in Africa, especially in Kenya cannot be gainsaid. It is a reality that has dawned on the government too soon, too late.

In March 2018, the Ministry of Environment and forestry launched an ambitious project aimed at increasing the country’s forest cover from the current 7 percent to 15 percent by the year 2022. This was in line with a United Nations recommendation of at least 10 percent forest cover.

While launching a national tree planting exercise along Nairobi’s Southern bypass, Environment Cabinet Secretary Kariako Tobiko noted that the state was working on modalities of setting aside a national tree planting day to meet its target in forest conservation.

However,  it was during the ’90s that Kenya’s forest cover hit a dangerous low of just one percent, meaning that Kenya was among a list of countries with the least forest cover in the world largely due to Wanton clearing of natural forests, logging, forest fires, and human settlement. 

The more forest is cleared, the less moisture is held beneath its canopy, and the drier the land gets spelling doom for water towers. So bad is the destruction, that it has evoked corporate actions geared towards environment conservation across sub-Saharan Africa.

For corporates, the task is enormous, almost insurmountable-but one that they are hell-bent on achieving to support their sustainability agendas.

In Kenya, for example, giant telco Safaricom has entered into a partnership with Kenya Forest Service to plant 5 million trees in the next five years to create sustainable forest cover across the country.

Speaking recently during the launch of their Sustainable Business Report 2019, the telcos Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Steve Chege explained how the company plans to plant trees across Kenya with the hope of achieving the 10 percent forest cover by 2022.

“At Safaricom, we have made a bold commitment to become a net-zero carbon-emitting company by 2050 and even engage with the public as we embark on this project,” said Chege.

Whichever way you look at it, the apocalyptic ‘environmental destruction’ future is here and as it stands, it is impatient. It can only be tamed by concerted efforts from public and private partnerships geared towards reigning sanity to our environment.

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