Sugarcane Plantation to reclaim 33,000ha of Kenyan Wetlands

The Following Appeal was made by colin Jackson of Mwamba Bird Observatory and while it is a bit off topic for Laikipia i still think it is a pending disaster that more people need to know about.
Cheers,James

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This is a plea to raise serious concerns and put pressure on the Kenya government to not go ahead with the plans to turn 33,000ha of one of our most important wetlands in Kenya into sugarcane plantations.

The Tana River Delta is one of Kenya’s largest and most important freshwater wetland systems with a significant local community of cattle herders and others dependent on it and having been so for centuries. As a wildlife refuge it is particularly important site for thousands of breeding birds as well as a feeding site many more – with 15,000 water birds of 69 species counted on just one day in January 2007including 1,600 herons, a flock of 1,400 Open-billed Stork, 58 Allen’s Gallinules, a single flock of 2,500 Ruff, 3,200 terns, a flock of 76 African Skimmers etc…, – and that was only covering a small proportion (c.15% max) of the whole delta on a random day. Systematic observing would produce many more valuable sightings. There is a major heronry in the delta, the only one for some 100s of kms, it is a highly important breeding site for fish and there are still elephant, lion, quite a lot of plains game and probably 800+ hippo in the delta (a count of 400 together in just one pool was made in 2006).

The Tana Delta is under serious threat of destruction from a proposed sugar plantation development that will cover an area of 33,000ha (80,000acres – about the same size as Amboseli National Park) and will have massive environmental and social impacts on the area. The plantations will stretch right into the heart of the main wetland area and not be restricted to the bush area to the north as previously thought.

River deltas are known for being fragile, dynamic and extremely rich and important wetland systems, flooding in times of good rain and later drying out again. Any small amount of playing with the hydrological systems will upset the delicate natural balance and wreak havoc on the ecosystem. To put sugar plantations right into the heart of the Tana Delta will spell the end of the delta. Sugar is widely known as an ecological desert in itself and the effluent and pollution from the processing plants in Africa is highly damaging as will be the impact of the many 100s (1,000s?) of workers and others who will be attracted to the area and who will need food, water and somwhere to rid their sewage and rubbish.

It will be a national natural disaster if this development is allowed to go ahead the way it is currently planned. The local community living in the delta, represented by the Lower Tana River Delta Conservation Trust, are fighting it hard and need all the support they can get.

Please write an email of even a single line to the following addresses expressing your concern about the project – this needs to be done by the closing date for comments which is 28th August:

TISP EIA Team Leader:

and cc to:

Thank you for your support.

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Colin Jackson
Mwamba Bird Observatory & Field Study Centre,
A Rocha Kenya
PO Box 383
Watamu, 80202
Kenya

Tel: +254-(0)42-32023 (O), 32037 (H)
Mobile 0722-842366
eml: colin.jackson@arocha.org
see also

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