Research on the impacts of mining on the environment was conducted on nine purposive selected mining sites in Kamtonga and Mkuki, Taita Taveta County, Kenya. The FOLCHI method was adopted to quantify the environmental impact of mining activities in gemstone mining sites. The affected environment surrounding the pits was broken down into three components such as Topography, Vegetation and Air. The effect of the three components impacting factors, both directly and indirectly, from the mining activities was then calculated for each Environmental Component and computed averages (magnitude) presented in table format. The findings showed that mining activities contributed to environmental and landscape changes, leading to loss of indigenous-trees, shrubs, grassland, forests, natural ecosystems and agricultural and grazing land. Mining activities contributed to air pollution. Even with the existence of environmental regulations and policies, the environment is still abused in Kenya, as a result, the country has lost considerable amount of forest cover due to mining activities. Government and non-governmental organizations should advocate for afforestation, re-afforestation and restoration of forests. Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Audit should be conducted in line with mining regulations in Environmental Management and Coordination act 1999 (amended 2019) in Kenya.
Key words: Mining activities, environmental elements, waste piles, sustainable livelihoods, air pollution, forest restoration.
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