5th June 2013, my World Environment Day
It was a calm Wednesday morning, the sun’s rays piercing through the fog, a gentle wind whistling through the trees as they swayed side to side, setting the scene for what would be a great day ahead: the World Environment Day 2013. Driving through the gates of Karura forest, my heart warms up to the splendor and ambience of this picturesque environment, at 1,041 hectares, it is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world. The event, spearheaded by Green Belt Movement (GBM) in cooperation with Mount Kenya University, Nairobi Academy and Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust (KFEET) would be held here at one of the GBM’s sites.
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost.
As I made my way to the site, my mind recalled the yester years of 1997 and 1998 when Professor Wangari Maathai and GBM fought for the protection of this forest. The forest was then handed over to the community for management through the Community Forest Association (CFA). Professor Maathai also oversaw the transition of the Shell-BP Sports Club into an environmental education facility, for which GBM is one of the trustees.
At the site, two huge banners on World Environment Day marked the grounds; the air was abuzz and Karura’s tranquility was broken by the joyful cheers of students from the two institutions mingling with GBM staff and members of board. The event kicked off at 10 am with a word of prayer.
In her opening remarks, GBM’s Executive Director, Pauline Kamau commended all those present for devoting their time to this special day. She urged everyone to nature the environment in a bid to attain the 10% recommended forest cover and save our environment from wanton destruction witnessed in the past. Pauline applauded the students from Nairobi Academy and Mount Kenya University for their interest in the environment, echoing the words of Wangari Maathai, "To the young people I say, you are a gift to your communities and indeed the world. You are our hope and our future."
Wanjira Mathai, the vice-chair of GBM board talked about her passion for Karura, “there’s no place I would rather be right now than here with you at Karura forest”. She encouraged the students to be environmental ambassadors and do the best they can to ensure a cleaner and safer environment for future generations.
Cyrus Kimamo, a GBM board member, talked about GBM’s history and how GBM fought to maintain Karura forest. He spoke of the need to plant indigenous trees that syphon harmful gases from the environment, purifying the air. Kimamo encouraged the youth to do more for the environment, one tree at a time, for without the trees and the forest, we will lack rain which in turn would devastate our environment.
After the brief speeches, the air was charged with team effort as the students were all raring to plant a tree and leave their mark at Karura forest. A brief demonstration on how to appropriately take the seedlings off the potting bags and laying them in the planting holes was done by GBM staff and this officially kicked off the tree planting session. 10 indigenous trees were planted at the site and GBM assured to take care of the trees for three years to ensure their survival.
As I left Karura, I felt an inspiring experience…like a humming bird, doing the little I can to save the environment.
So think before you eat and help save our environment!