Eucalyptus Tree introduced in 1902 is causing havoc to our water table ( Africa In General)

I have been meaning to post my views regarding the Blue Gum tree or Eucalyptus. Last week I travelled through Central province tower on my way to Isiolo . Mount Kenya is a major water tower . Well it is now facing imminent danger.

Right from Thika I noticed miles and miles of Eucalyptus trees on virtually every available space. What many Kenyans don’t realise is that the Eucalyptus tree also known as Blue Gum is not an indigenous tree. It was introduced to Kenya around 1902 from Australia. It is a source of timber and fuel . It also fast growing. Many Kenyans have also been made to believe that they can sell the poles to Kenya Power who have now opted to use concrete poles which means many farmers will be left with poles that will end up as firewood or timber or left to continue to grow.

Now the sad part . Late Michuki warned us to uproot this trees from river banks while Nobel Laurette Wangari Mathai did not have kind words for it . She detested exotic trees for good reasons moreso the Blue Gum .

Entire 250KM + is nothing but Eucalyptus trees. Each tree gulps anything between 60 to 200 Litres a day

During my trip I only saw two rivers flowing while a decade ago there more than 10 rivers. When I see news that Mwea Scheme is now drying up I am not surprised . Uncles Michuki and Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathai who are both deceased warned us ( May their souls Rest In Peace ) but we never listened.

Eucalyptus tree gulp between 60 and 200 litres a day per tree depending on age of the tree . Even wetland grabbers use them to drain the grabbed land . Note how Nairobi is also full of these trees.

This tree is also not kind to other plants . It releases a chemical that kills most other plants . Even birds dont find it attractive to build nests and the soil is left dry without any moisture. Even butterflies disappear. This aint rocket science , please visit any place with Eucalyptus trees. The soil is dry and cracking. No sign of moisture.

We plant the wrong tree and on the other hand we keep drilling more boreholes , folks the future ain’t looking good at all. If anything this tree should banned or strict controlled growing of same .

Kenya is officially a water stressed nation. If we fail to take action , one day you may have the money but there is no water to buy. Scary Isn’t it .

I have also said on numerous occasion that a messed up environment hits back with a vengeance. Nature does not file case in court .

I am NOT a science student but where have all the environmentalist gone ?

Way Forward. Farmers ought to get rid of this tree and replace with Bamboo which is more soil friendly and quick growing.

Looming disaster indeed but as always I choose to remain am optimist .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

2 thoughts on “Eucalyptus Tree introduced in 1902 is causing havoc to our water table ( Africa In General)”

  1. The issue of reducing and/or drying up rivers is a very worrying reality in Kenya and deforestation is partly to blame. Factors related to global warming, unregulated damming and irrigation also come into play. A good example is River Malewa in Nyandarua County. This river has greatly reduced in size over the years thanks to the depletion of trees and vegetation in the Nyandarua Ranges and uncontrolled tapping of water by flower farms. This river is a shadow of its former self 25 years ago when it would remain full even in the dry season. These days it does not fill up even during the long rains.

    On the issue of exotic trees, a good start would be to stop the afforestation and reafforestation that is very popular in government forests. The late Prof Wangari Maathai was very categorical about this issue, citing research which shows that exotic trees do not support undergrowth and other vegetation that hold water and release it slowly into springs and rivers throughout the year. A visit to any exotic forest would reveal this: there is no vegetation under the trees, which have great ecological consequences to other flora and fauna.

    Solving the problem of the Eucalyptus calls for a very delicate balancing act: its damage to the environment versus its economic value. This tree has supported the residents of the parts of Ol Kalou and Kipiriri where the soil is waterlogged and the weather is unfriendly for most trees(growing a tree in these areas is a painstaking undertaking). The Eucalyptus is prolific here and has provided the much needed fuel for the residents besides solving
    the waterlogging problem. What is needed is mapping of those areas in Kenya that would support the growth of this tree without much damage to the environment and consequently ban its farming in other areas.

    Despite the directive by the Late Minister for Environment John michuki, tea processing companies continue to plant thousands of acres with the Eucalyptus with the obvious damage currently being witnessed. It is time research was conducted about the actual damage of this tree to the environment and based on the findings, devise and implement the necessary policies to solve the problem.

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    1. I agree… I have planted this tree on a Rocky patch of my farm and it didn’t well to green the area. Kfs report on eucalyptus is not as damning as Michuki put it. In fact they say there is no evidence that bluegum consumes more water than other trees like coffee, or fruits Bananas..I agree with Hersi that we need to rethink the planting of the tree, however we need to confirm its true impact… For instance I would like to know whether in Australia where it originates it has turned the rivers into dry beds or why the castigation… Since it has been planted in Aussie for centuries… What has been its impact… I also don’t understand why in Kericho the tea farms plant it in hundreds of acres… What is the impact on the Kericho tea ecosystem…

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