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KWS launches National Strategy and Action Plan for management of Invasive Alien species
Date Published: 11 Dec, 2013
The severe threats posed by Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Kenya’s protected areas are expected to be overcome following the launch of a national strategy and action plan 2013-2018 for the management of invasive species.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in collaboration with other government agencies and line ministries along with conservation stakeholders recently developed the document which aims to minimize the harmful effects of invasive species on the environment, economy, biodiversity and society in the country’s protected areas.
The invasive species are recognized as the second biggest threat to biodiversity loss worldwide, second only to that of habitat loss and destruction and have been implicated in the decline of endangered species across the globe. The IAS are non-indigenous species that may spread quickly and aggressively when introduced to areas beyond their normal ranges.
On a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Wildlife Conservation at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Stephen Manegene, the Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu said that her ministry will spearhead the review of various environmentally related legislation and policies to promote management of invasive species and securing healthy ecosystems in Kenya.
“These reviews will result to minimized economic, ecological, and human health impacts that invasive species cause, recognizing that with ever growing international commerce, reduced barriers to trade, and increasing human influence, species are moving around the World, and natural systems are suffering drastic changes,” she stated.
Currently there is no single comprehensive law or policy exists specifically to address invasive species. The establishment of a focused policy or law on invasive species would be an important long-term strategic action to be accomplished under the Invasive Species Strategy, considering that legal and institutional frameworks will define the basic opportunities for prevention and management of invasive alien species.
The KWS Director, Mr. William Kiprono said that invasive species have already invaded and degraded extensive wildlife habitats at the country’s premier destination areas of Tsavo East, Amboseli, and Lake Nakuru National Parks.
Mr. Kiprono said that although the strategy will initially focus on Kenya’s protected areas and adjacent community/private lands, it will also assist in guiding the nation’s full suite of invasive species research, education, regulatory, and management activities, consistent with existing law, policy, and other direction at the field, community, county, and national levels.
The most common invasive alien plants that pose the biggest threats to biodiversity conservation in Kenya include the Mathenge (Prosopis), Lantana camara, Parthenium, Cactus species, Chromolaena and the Water hyacinth.
Some of the key government agencies and NGOs which contributed to the development and production of the strategy and action plan include the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), US Forest Service, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The University of Nairobi and Chuka University and USAID.