Global climate change is at Africa's door step. As we celebrate World Environment Day today, what can we do to assuage its effects, questions Jung Hyun Park, Vice President and Managing Director of Samsung Electronics East Africa.
NAIROBI, Kenya, 5 June 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- From the US to Thailand, the Caribbean and Kenya, this past month alone has seen countries across the world hit by devastating encounters with flooding.
As we witness these terrible events unfold, a question lingers at the back of our minds: Are we starting to see the more sinister effects of global warming at play?
Undoubtedly the wrath of global warming is expected to take its toll over the coming years, with the threat of everything from flooding to drought, the spread of disease and even lack of drinking water looming. According to National Geographic, the global average surface temperature has already increased between 0.6 and 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1906. As a result, ice across the world is melting.
The massive task before us in reducing the harmful effects of global warming almost seems insurmountable - but as J.M. Darhower was wise enough to point out: "Change happens little by little. Day by day. Hour by hour."
And in the case of climate change - it just may happen one tree at a time.
The future relies on our forests
In fact, environmental advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund, is adamant that any realistic plan to reduce global warming sufficiently - and in time to prevent catastrophic effects - will rely in part on preserving our forests.
Nowhere does the need to save our forests ring truer than in Africa, where according to research from the Green Africa Foundation, the rate of annual deforestation exceeds the global annual average by 0.8%.
Deforestation is a particular problem in Kenya - in 2015 it was estimated that Kenya was losing a shocking 5.6 million trees daily. The effects of deforestation have been significant, leading to reduced rainfall and increased soil erosion, in turn causing food scarcity and other difficulties.
But the Kenyan government has taken a stand by setting itself the goal of planting a total of 20 million trees in and around Mount Kenya and other highland forests by 2024. It plans to increase forest cover and restore degraded land, and in so doing make a valuable contribution towards the war against climate change.
As such forest cover has already begun to improve. According to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, coverage in Kenya is currently at 7%. The goal, however, is for this to increase to at least 10% by 2020.
It is an achievable target and one which will help us beat back the harmful ravages of global warming - country by country, forest by forest, tree by tree.
10,000 trees to start
Samsung Electronics East Africa is determined to be part of tackling this threat by playing a part in rehabilitating Karura Forest in Nairobi.
Recently, Samsung partnered with Friends of Karura Forest and Kenya Forest Service to help grow forest coverage in Karura Forest specifically, and Kenya in general, committing to planting 10,000 trees over the next two years.
Located in the northern part of Nairobi and covering 1,041 hectares, Karura Forest is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world. It is home to 50km of well-maintained trails in which visitors can walk, run or bike. As part of Samsung's commitment, 5,000 trees will be planted in the forest this year and 5,000 in 2018. 200 benches and picnic tables have also been donated towards the initiative.
The benefits of a project like Karura Forest extend beyond reducing the effects of climate change. It also has a positive impact on the surrounding communities, in particular the Huruma and Deep Sea informal settlements that border the forest to the north and south, from which residents have been employed to plant the 10,000 trees donated by Samsung.
There is no doubt that we have a great deal of work to do if we're going to leave a healthier world for future generations. Samsung firmly believes the task is not insurmountable though - little by little, inch by inch, we'll succeed in taking our planet back.
- Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Samsung Electronics.