By Elias Kimaru, originally posted on the WWF UK blog
I’m pleased to report yet another conservation success this month. The forests we have here in Kwale are a vital source of water – sustaining the rich diversity of wildlife as well as meeting the needs of the people of the area.
By working with our partners, WWF has managed to persuade the Kenyan government to officially recognise the importance of the Shimba Hills by designating the area a ‘National Water Tower’. Granting this status is a major step forward – it will help protect natural resources of the area for generations to come.
This new recognition puts the Shimba Hills area well and truly on the map, and on a par with other equally important recognised water towers in Kenya such as Mount Kenya and Mau Forests.
The people of Kwale and in fact, the entire economy of the county and that of Mombasa city could not thrive without local forests, which are the source of five permanent rivers. Shimba Hills National Reserve is also the only known home in Kenya to the beautiful Sable antelope.
Water Tower status is therefore a significant achievement for both local people, the economy and wildlife conservation of the area because Shimba Hills is a vital water source and the only recognised Water Tower in the entire coastal region. The forests and rivers of Shimba Hill, feeds the city of Mombasa and other neighbouring towns in Kwale with more than 1,4000,000 litres of water daily and sustain thousands of communities downstream providing water for domestic use, irrigation and livestock. Rivers originating from the Shimba Hills area also help to create and sustain more than 6,000 hectares of mangrove forests which are vital to the local economy, as they act as fish nurseries and breeding grounds helping to sustain the local fishing industry.
Shimba Hills is also a major asset to mining interests and large scale farming operations which exploit the natural resources from the area. These industries could not be maintained without water from the rivers that flow from the forests of Shimba Hills.
We as a community are therefore so happy, that the committed conservation efforts by WWF and other partners, has led to recognised status of Shimba Hills as a National Water Tower, from our government. This status will help us to protect and conserve our eco-systems for both people and wildlife.
And, thanks to your continued support, we can now boast that the Shimba Hill area has been designated a Forest Reserve, National Reserve and now a National Water Tower.
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