The United Nations has called for increased protection of cultural icons and key resources which are at risk from human activity.
United Nation’s Mountain global ambassador Drikung Thinle Lhundup on his first visit to Kenya, was speaking during a visit to Mount Kenya last week where he met elders and Wamete Kambevo Women’s Group tree nursery in Embu County.
“The environment is in a disastrous situation, it’s very serious, never have we had these challenges in human history,” said the Ambassador, a Tibetan monk and throne-holder of an ancient Buddhist dynasty.
More than 4 million Kenyans live in the six counties surrounding the mountain which feeds river Tana which generates up to 50 per cent of the country’s electricity and provides 95 per cent of water used in Nairobi. It also provides water for major irrigation schemes and has a rich biodiversity.
A third of Kenya’s elephants, roughly 11,000 live in habitats sustained by the mountain and of those 2,600 elephants live in the Mount Kenya National Reserve.
He said that mountains are water towers and so are important for humanity and their posterity calling for their conservation.
“Global warming and climate change are serious threats to all our mountain environments and communities,” the Ambassador said.
“We need collaboration across race, ethnicity, religion, country, and culture to assure that our mountains remain healthy,” he added.
The mountain faces threats such as timber logging, charcoal logging and bush meat poaching.
In addition, 92 per cent of glaciers, which store and release fresh water seasonally that supply people and ecosystems, have melted and it is estimated that the remaining glacier may disappear before 2050 putting the country into a crisis.
His Holiness, 70, was a guest of Mount Kenya Trust, a Kenyan conservation organisation working with communities and government agencies including KWS and KFS to protect the environment of Kenya’s tallest mountain.
Mount Kenya Trust established in 2000 to help protect and restore the integrity of Mount Kenya’s forests and wildlife has planted more than half a million trees around Mount Kenya, turned 350 hectares back to indigenous forest, launched tree nurseries nurturing 100,000 seedlings, and helped 50,000 Kenyans with health care and 2,000 children understand conservation better.
Mr Lhundup will be in the country until November 1 where he is also scheduled to visit the Trust’s headquarters in Nanyuki, spend two nights high on Mount Kenya’s moorlands, and visit Lewa Conservancy.