Nairobi, 9 January 1999 - Appalled by the treatment of environment protesters at Nairobi's Karura Forest yesterday, the United Nations Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, said that violence and intimidation was not the way to deal with sensitive environmental issues like Karura which, he said, must be handled by a process of dialogue and cooperation.
Particularly disturbed by the brutality and manner in which the environmental protesters, including parliamentarians and the UNEP Global 500 Award winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, were treated, Toepfer has written to Kenya's Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Francis Nyenze, to express his deep concern.
The UNEP Executive Director also telephoned Professor Maathai in hospital today, wishing her and the others hurt in the incident on Friday a fast and full recovery.
Repeating his view that Karura Forest is a precious natural resource which the city of Nairobi cannot afford to lose, Toepfer said that the destruction must stop as the loss of this valuable ecosystem will have serious environmental implications.
The gazetted Karura Forest, which borders the United Nations compound in Nairobi, covers an area of just over 1000 hectares and serves as a water catchment area for the Thigiri, Karura, Ruiruaka and Gitathuru rivers on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya's capital. The Forest also acts as an all important "lung" for the city, helping to clear the air of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
UNEP News Release 1999/1
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