Originally written by the UN News Center.

A landmark study of Kenya’s high-elevation forests shows that the economic cost of deforestation in the East African country exceeds national gains from forestry and logging by more than four-to-one, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

“Deforestation deprived Kenya’s economy of 5.8 billion shillings ($68 million) in 2010 and 6.6 billion shillings in 2009, far outstripping the roughly 1.3 billion shillings injected from forestry and logging each year,” according to a UNEP news release on the joint UNEP-Kenya Forest Service (KFS) study.

The economic impact of Kenya’s five montane forests – called ‘water towers’ as these forests store water during the rainy season and release it slowly, thus ensuring water flow during dry periods – are assessed in the study, entitled The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy.

In his comments on the report, UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, recognized rehabilitation work Kenya has undertaken in the Mau Forest Complex, one of the so-called water towers.

“Kenya is today underlining its determination to be among a group of pioneering countries putting its nature-based assets at the centre of its sustainable development ambitions,” he said.

“The findings of this report are based on the best international analytical methods and the latest environmental and economic evidence,” he added. “It is these kinds of cutting-edge assessments that are inspiring more and more countries in Africa and beyond towards the opportunities presented in a transition to an inclusive Green Economy.”

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