The loss of vegetation is creating a dangerous heat island over Nairobi

Traffic flows past trees that have been felled to make way for a highway in Nairobi, Kenya on November 12, 2020. Photo by LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, used to be known as the “Green City in the Sun” for its lush environment. There have been however recently been a lot of changes to Nairobi’s land cover – what’s on the ground’s surface. Most recently, there was uproar over the felling of hundreds of trees to make way for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Victor Ongoma and Patricia Mwangi to share their insights into how changes in land cover affect the city and its environment.

How has land cover changed in Nairobi?

Nairobi is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The city’s population, which was about 2 million people a decade ago, now stands at over 4 million. This puts a lot of pressure on the natural environment.

Areas of vegetation around rivers and forested land have declined in the city due to encroachment and infrastructure development, namely roads and buildings. It has been reported that Nairobi city has lost 22% of the city’s green spaces cover in the period between 1988 and 2016.

Changes in land cover in Nairobi are mainly due to policy changes – such as zoning – that increase the plot area covered by a building relative to the total plot size. For instance, areas close to the central business district that were residential in land use have seen recent conversions to commercial or office space land use. This changes the landscape. Read more…

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