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Language Choice and the Construction of Forest Ecology: Lessons from the Mau Forest Restoration Debate in Kenya

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.6, No. 6)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 126-136

Keywords : Lexical choices; Mau Forest; Environmental Conservation; Kenya;

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Forest cover in sub-Saharan Africa declined by nearly 10 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Of this loss, 75 per cent was caused by the conversion of forest to human settlement and agriculture largely for food production to serve rapidly growing domestic food demand. Focusing on Kenya, this study examines the political leaders' utterances during the Mau Forest restoration debate in Kenya. Language and environment are closely connected with one another as the existence of a language is influenced by the surrounding natural environment where the language is exploited. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, the study explores the lexical choices of these leaders with a view to establish to what extent their linguistic choices have influenced Mau Forest conservation in Kenya and how local communities have reacted to these dynamics. The findings have indicated a controversial debate for and against forest conservation in Kenya. Some leaders have urged the Kenyan Government to raise public awareness on the dangers of environmental degradation besides taking action against those responsible for environmental degradation whereas others have advocated for human settlement in the forest tower arguing from a humanistic point of view. The findings also indicated that the political leaders' choice of words, lexical items and utterances may not necessarily indicate their political beliefs and attitudes towards environmental Conservation. But because they want to consolidate their political power base and increase political control and support, they use double standard language, and say what people want to hear and in the end the environment continues to be endangered. Therefore, a conclusion is drawn that deforestation is a complex issue whose solutions lie primarily outside the forest itself and that it should be tackled with suitable policies on crucial issues such as land, agriculture, infrastructure and indigenous peoples.

Last modified: 2021-12-11 19:57:37