Over the years, human activities have posed the greatest danger to biodiversity that has led to the extinction or near extinction of several species. Across the globe biodiversity loss is becoming a common phenomenon and this is significantly noted in the developing countries where the impact of this trend falls heavily on poor and vulnerable people because their livelihood depends profoundly on natural resources. It is possible that unknown species could as well have been lost through man’s interference with biodiversity. Man needs to co-exist with biodiversity for his own good because by destroying this unmatched resource, man is subjecting himself to a slow and painful death. This paper will focus on Kenya and its key contention is that man can lead a dignified life without necessarily destroying or degrading biodiversity and this is possible through sustainable exploitation of terrestrial and marine resources.
The paper will zero in on three of the country’s major infrastructure projects whose implementation has had negative impacts on biodiversity. These are the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the Lamu Coal Power Plant and sand harvesting in Kwale County for construction of a major oil terminal at the port of Mombasa. Before these projects were initiated, biodiversity was still under threat in Kenya from various other human interventions. But it is the scale of these mega projects that has accelerated the rate of biodiversity degradation and destruction in the country. Other than not implementing projects that harm the environment, the least that could be done is that ventures that contribute to, or worsen biodiversity loss should be “nature-proofed” as mitigation against loss of biological diversity because when biodiversity is lost, human development cannot take place. Indeed, such loss can lead to the end of man’s life on earth as we know it today.
Only 15% of Kenya’s land area is arable with the remaining portion being arid and semi-arid. Tree cover is less than the internationally recommended 10% of national territory while water bodies are faced with pollution among other threats. To cap it all, Kenya has also been affected by negative impacts of climate change. All these factors have a bearing on the survival of biodiversity and hence measures should be put in place to ensure that anthropogenic factors do not exacerbate an already precarious situation by contributing to biodiversity loss.