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Biofuels threaten to turn Kenya's Tana Delta into ecological wasteland

Ecosystems matter more than biofuel

By Climate Ark, a project of Ecological Internet - July 22, 2008
In partnership with Rettet den Regenwald e.V. -- Rainforest Rescue

Kenya has recently approved plans to destroy some 20,000 hectares of the globally important and ecologically sensitive Tana Delta for sugar and biofuel production. Covering 130,000 hectares, these wetlands' diverse riverine vegetation -- forests, swamps, dunes, beaches and ocean -- will be forever altered by widespread vast fields of toxic, monoculture sugar cane and biofuel mill. The project threatens 350 species including birds, lions, hippos, nesting turtles, elephants, sharks, reptiles and the Tana red colobus, one of 25 primates facing extinction globally.

Mumias Sugar Company, the nation's largest sugar company, owns 51 percent of the project, while most of the rest is owned by state-run Tana and Athi River Development Authority. Local people live in an intricate relationship with the delta’s ecosystems, and are generally opposed to the mill. Irrigation would cause severe drainage of the Delta, leaving local farmers without water for their herds during dry seasons. The Kenya Wetlands Forum is calling on the Government to cancel its approval given to the project. "We cannot just start messing around with the wetland because we need biofuel and sugar," Kenyan Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai has said.

Biofuel production worldwide continues to destroy crucial natural ecosystems required for local and global sustainability. While hailed as a climate change remedy, this destruction of natural habitats for biofuel production almost always releases more carbon than saved. Using food such as sugar for fuel has raised food prices, leading to riots globally, including in Kenya. Let the Kenyan government know destroying ecosystems for toxic monocultures is unethical, ask them to please follow their own environmental laws, and respectfully request the project be permanently cancelled.

Reproduced from original article of 22 Jul 08 on

What you can do: Let the Kenyan government know that destroying ecosystems for toxic sugar monocultures is unethical, and ask them to please follow their own environmental laws, and permanently cancel the project.

See also: Agrofuel company violently represses communities in Guatemala of 12 Jul 08, Public Hearing against Agrofuels in Valle del Cauca, Colombia of 25 Jun 08, Evo Morales re-nationalises energy and telecommunications companies, denounces biofuel-driven starvation of 12 May 08.