Worldwide deforestation together with the rapid growth of human population have resulted in losing of the amount of forest and its products. In a wide range of the third world countries, the forest resources are the basis of the livelihood for local communities. In these regions, forests provide wood, meat, timber, and also – the highly valuable medicinal herbs. Nearly all plant species on Earth are medicinal. Nowadays, 25% of all drugs are based on herbs. It is known that 700 million in Africa derive their healthcare and livelihoods from medicinal herbs, which also provide a steady cash flow for many forest organizations. The deforestation, which is by now not only the Africa’s problem, has triggered the reduction of wild life, water supplies, forest coverage, and soil fertility.
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Since several decades ago, the Prunus Africana, or the African Cherry populations have decreased in quantity due to unchecked bark exploitation by various drug-selling companies. This plant has a very high medicinal and economic value. In 1966, it was discovered that Prunus Africana had very important medicinal features and could be a cure to prostate gland hypertrophy. Since that time, different pharmaceutical companies have hired the Africans to collect the African Cherry’s bark for export to Europe. This plant still remains the most exported species all around Africa. Kakamega forest situated in Western Kenya contains a big quantity of Prunus Africana and now suffers from deforestation as well. This forest has a rather complex land use history. The development and growth of the surrounding communities has had a great impact on it. The tribe within this region is called Kikuyu, one of Kenya’s biggest tribes.
The total number of Kenya’s tribes is 43 and each of them has its own peculiarities and influence on the country itself. The Kikuyu tribe migrated to their present location four centuries ago and has since become the country’s biggest ethnic group. The Kikuyu greatly depend on agriculture together with raising cattle and sheep. The plants play a significant role in their lives as they gather bananas, maize, different kinds of beans, etc. The Kikuyu tribe is a very hard working community of principle – it promotes harmony, freedom, and peace within the other tribes. Nowadays, the members of the tribe are also involved in the business sphere. They have been moving to cities, as the Kikuyu are known for their eagerness to knowledge. They have also gained popularity for their dealing with money, so it is very common among the Kikuyu to have several enterprises at the same time. The Kikuyu tribe is also rather active in politics. It has influenced Kenya greatly as its tribesmen have held many positions in politics and economy. The first president of the post-independent Kenya was a member of the Kikuyu tribe. In 2008, it triggered violence between the Kikuyu and the other tribes over power in the country. Still, the majority of the tribe lives their traditional way of life but, at the same time, many of its members have moved to cities and modernized their life.
Prunus Africana springs out in the area of where the Kikuyu tribe lives. High medicinal value of the herb led to the developing interest in it of various pharmaceuticals companies. One of them is Colney & Pitts situated in California. The firm produces drugs which cure prostate cancer, prostatitis, and other old man’s diseases. The goal of the company is to make the tribe leave their lands for financial compensation. The matter of fact the Kikuyu tribe also uses African Cherry as a treatment to many diseases. Colney & Pitts are planning to set their plant for manufacturing the drugs for prostate cancer in the Arberdare Mountain Range. The company puts in 250,000$ for the development of their plans. The over-the-counter retail revenues generated from the trade of Prunus Africana stand at almost 220 million dollars a year. It is a very lucrative business with pharmaceuticals companies.
The main stakeholders of the problem are Colney and Pitts, the Kikuyu tribe, International Center for Ethnobotanical Research, and the Eco Smiles organization. The exorbitant dollar profits that Colney & Pitts would anticipate in a year after launching the manufacturing process of Prunus Africana reveals the real deal of the corporation. The company is going to indemnify the Kikuyu tribe 250,000$ for the development activities in the region. Their plan is to provide infrastructure for the tribe, to plant trees, and address healthcare issues. The advantage for the tribe in this agreement is a good healthcare program. The problem is the tribe uses only herbs and Prunus Africana for treating most of their illnesses which lead sometimes to the fatal consequences. The infrastructure plan seeks to provide the tribe with new houses, as their own huts will probably be claimed by the company, due to the exploitation of their territory. Colney & Pitts is willing to build new roads as well, which is not preferred, as it will produce an even bigger deforestation. At the same time, it would be germane to consider business policies of large corporations, including Colney and Pitts. For the past decades, we could observe only the negative consequences which they inflict upon the world’s environment. At the first glance, the politics of Colney & Pitts sound very convincing and altruistic but, as the evidences demonstrate, corporations often think only about their bank accounts. The good intentions towards the development of the Kikuyu tribe appear some kind of disguise of the real motives. In fact, the corporation seems to neglect the aftereffects of its activity on the tribe and the environment. This deal is, perhaps, another screaming environmental injustice, because it resembles the activities of the other corporations which are responsible for the terrifying state of the environment now.
Another party is the International Centre for Ethnobiological Research. They are going to provide education opportunities for the tribe together with health care, financial compensation and encouragement for the Kikuyu people. They also require marcotting, the method of generating roots to plant new trees, which is a very expensive process. This process will influence the manufacturing program, as it helps the environment. Marcotting will put new trees in the place where the old ones have been cut. The intentions of the Centre are to preserve the species of Prunus Africana and not let the deforestation happen.
The last stakeholder is the Ecosmiles which is a conservationist group. It steps in the fray with the intention to monitor manufacturing, check poaching, and ensure sustainable harvesting. The method of sustainable harvesting involves removing bark from one side of the trunk and then waiting for the bark to grow back before harvesting on the other side. The Ecosmiles is dedicated to controlling deforestation and protecting the ecosystem of the local area.
By taking into consideration the interests of all stakeholders – Colney & Pitts, the Ecosmiles, International Centre for Ethnobiological Research, and the Kikuyu tribe – we have to scrutinize multiple measures to choose the best ones. Marcotting methods are very good but expensive ways to save the environment, and it would be naïve to make Colney & Pitts reconsider their politics. Sustainable harvesting appears to be a good compromise for both the corporation and the environment. A compensation for the tribe has to be considered as the most important measure, because the Kikuyu tribe will definitely lose a lot of their territory. Infrastructure and health care improvements could be such compensations for the tribe. The purpose of the measures is to prevent the future extermination of the forest and losing the Kikuyu tribe as well.
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