Public-Private Sector Intervention Saves the Mt. Kenya Ecosystem

Public-private sector partnership interventions managed the fire that had threatened to wipe out vegetations in Mt. Kenya and Aberdare National Parks.

The raging inferno took a concerted effort of Government agencies lead by Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, the Kenya Army and private sector volunteers coordinated by Lady Lori Helicopters more than 10 days to put out.

Lady Lori Helicopter’s Captain Shawn Evans said helicopters were useful in reducing fires to manageable sizes to enable ground operations put it off in totality. However experts noted that there was need to invest in fire fighting assets.

‘‘There is need for specialized firefighting equipment to curb forest fires in the event of future occurrence. It is important to equip fire fighters with surveillance equipment, all-terrain motor vehicles and motorcycles, personal protective gear and other assorted fire suppression tools to make fire fighting professional’’ said Captain Evans who coordinated the private sector operation.

Kenya Wildlife Services Chief Park Warden Simon Gitau said the fire threatened an ecosystem around the mountain that acts as a water catchment area for most of the country and is home to magnificent tourism sites.

“The fires have destroyed trees worth Shs. 8 billion. It is also feared that thousands of acres of vegetation and animals, most of them rodents, have been destroyed in the fire’’ said Gitau.

The UN describes the region as “one of the most impressive landscapes of Eastern Africa, with its rugged glacier-clad summits, Afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forests.

‘’ The fire has caused considerable damage to this ecosystem, posing a big threat to conservation efforts and culminated into major losses in terms of biodiversity, revenue and wildlife habitat’’ said Gitau.

Captain Ian Mimano, CEO of the locally operated luxury helicopter company said Government and local leaders must sensitize people on the benefits of conserving forests since the fire was most likely caused by arsonists or negligent activities like honey-harvesting or charcoal burning.

Captain Mimano said with Kenya Vision 2030 singling out Isiolo for development as a Resort City, active private sector participation in protecting, preserving and increasing the value of attractions found in the counties surrounding Isiolo like Nanyuki, Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Lewa, Samburu and Meru among others, will help sustain the tourism and leisure business for longer.

‘’We will always step in to assist in such emergencies because as a company, it is a national obligation. Besides, we directly benefit from the beautiful landscapes of this tourism circuit’’ said Captain Mimano.

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