Nairobi, Feb 14 – A coalition of campaigners dedicated to the protection of green spaces in Kenya marked Valentine’s Day by urging the government and the people to spare a thought for the 200 trees earmarked for cutting down to make way for the expansion of roads in Nairobi.

An estimated “200 trees – some as old as 30years and others only 5 years – have been marked for felling in the name of development,” said members of the Daima Coalition for Green Spaces Protection in a press release. “Thirteen of these trees are assorted species, both indigenous and exotic. Never mind that cutting them down would mean losing 56m3 of carbon sequestration potential of CO2 equivalent.”

The Coalition said its members marked Valentine’s Day early by hanging love hearts with messages to save, spare and conserve all trees that have been marked for felling in Nairobi.

They urged Kenyans celebrating this year’s Valentine’s Day to consider taking a moment to appreciate recreational grounds such as Uhuru Park in Nairobi that has provided romantic spots for many years and to choose to take environmental action.

“We support development that is socially just and climate-smart. That means, the infrastructure development of today should have the least impact on carbon emissions and it must benefit the majority of the citizens,” said Nyaguthii Chege, Executive Director, Green Belt Movement. “Development also cannot be myopically focused on short-term solutions; it must take into account the needs of future generations. Inter- and intra-generational equity is paramount.”

The Coalition noted that Nairobi, like most African cities, has experienced a surge in motor vehicle ownership in recent years and, as a result, more public spaces are being allocated to vehicles, leaving little or no space for the social and economic activities that enable cities to thrive.

“Kenya’s urban population is projected to exceed 22 million by 2030. Our government must start providing the required sustainable urban transport facilities and services for the 40 per cent of Nairobi residents who walk and the other 40 per cent who use public transport for their daily trips,” said Andrew Young of Kiambiu Justice and Information Network. “Any road development in the city should address this reality. Improved mobility for the majority of road users not only will improve road safety but also will enhance access to jobs and opportunities, lower demand for travel by motorized vehicles, and reduce air pollution,” he added.

Elizabeth Wathuti, Head of Campaigns at the Wangari Maathai Foundation said: “For a long time now, environmental defenders have been labelled as anti-developers, but clearly, we are not actually against development; all we need to see is green infrastructures that incorporate people and our planet. That way, the children and young people of today will not have to bear the burden of our actions such as unsustainable felling of trees for development.”