Category Archives: Partners

Should the Church be involved in conservation & climate change issues?

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks in Nairobi for a Micah Network conference discussing the church’s response to Climate Change. It was an awesome week involving people from c.46 nations and making a strong statement that the church has no option but to be fully involved in making a difference to reduce carbon emissions and the impact of climate change on particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

When I talk of A Rocha Kenya as a Christian conservation organisation I get a lot of people being quite surprised to hear that we are a specifically Christian organisation that is doing on-the-ground conservation work – doing biological research and monitoring surveys, working with communities and also environmental education in schools etc. It seems that amazingly few people (Christians and non-Christians alike) have really made the link between the environment and Christian living / biblical teaching. In fact a famous essay in 1967 by Lynn White Jr put the blame of the ecological crisis fair and square on the church’s shoulders – something which in many ways, Christians cannot deny as many have, sadly, misinterpreted the bible to say that we have the right to use the environment around us just as we want to – rather than to be the good stewards that in fact God would have us be. To use the world, yes – but to use it wisely and respectfully and not to harm it nor degrade it.

It was therefore awesome to be in a conference with such a diverse group of people who unanimously agreed that the church should be in fact leading the way in fighting against the environmental degradation we see in the world today and particularly to be lobbying governments to implement legislation to reduce carbon emissions as well as teaching their congregations to change their lifestyles to something more sustainable. A statement was written with input from everyone there that is aimed at the global church together with another one for the politicians of the world – to be tabled at the summit in Copenhagen later this year. This statement can be found on the Micah Network website so do check it out.

I of course managed to get some birding in and actually found a tiny patch of highland forest that is still clinging on amongst the tea fields of Limuru where we had great views of some forest birds – White-browed Crombec, White-starred Robin, Abyssinian Hill Babbler, Brown Woodland Warbler, Grey Apalis (and three other species of apalis – Chestnut-throated, Yellow-breasted and Black-collared) and Cabanis’ Greenbul. At the conference centre – Brackenhurst – they’ve cut down some eucalypt plantations and planted indigenous forest trees which are now 5-10m tall and the bird life has really increased. Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, 9 species of sunbird and Giant Kingfishers in the small dam at the bottom of the hill.

Giant Kingfisher

This was followed by a Sunday morning at Lake Nakuru National Park joining the team from the National Museums of Kenya Ornithology Section doing the July waterfowl counts – which was awesome… we counted over 15,000 Great White Pelicans in one flock in front of us and about 45,000 lesser flamingo… stunning, stunning views (whilst dodging grumpy buffalo at the same time). A very good couple of weeks away!

Pressure mounting for Tana River Delta

While I’m catching up on things at Mwamba and in Watamu, there is a full scale war building up for the Tana River Delta. We’ve got the website up and running though there are still things we’re working on – thanks to JĂșlio, our A Rocha webmaster and Sarah who’s volunteering for us on this. Any suggestions for it – let me know…

NatureKenya is spearheading the media campaign but the government and the sugar company, Mumias is coming back with a vengence with it’s fight to have the project go ahead. The latest news from NatureKenya’s updates include:

  • Abdulaziz Abdalla of Pollmans Tours & Safaris has sent our concerns (documents) to Robert Hepworth of CMS/AEWA for action. He will also engage the tourism industry through the Kenya Association of Tour Operators to mobilize action against TISP.
  • NatureKenya and the BirdLife Africa Partnership are putting together an international petition from the BirdLife Africa Partners from 22 countries on the basis of the international significance of this Important Bird Area
  • 26th
    June 2008 Environment News Service,: Sugar for Biofuel to Displace
    Kenya’s Tana Delta Wildlife
    :
    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2008/2008-06-26-03.asp
  • 27th
    June 2008 Business Daily- NEMA reacted to the KWF press conference See the
    story on http://allafrica.com/stories/200806260992.html
  • 30th
    June – 6th July 2008 page 23, The East African, Tana sugar project not economically
    viable
    http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current/Business/biz300620086.htm

Please do visit the Tana River Delta website and send an email or even better a letter of concern to the people listed to put pressure on the government to stop this from going ahead.