State extends forest logging ban by a year - Daily Nation

Government extends forest logging ban by a year

Friday November 16 2018

Mt Kenya Forest

A man fells a tree inside Mt Kenya Forest on January 16, 2018. The government has extended the ban on logging by one year. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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The government has extended by one year the ban on logging in public forests effective from November 24.

A moratorium on logging has been in place since February following a public outcry over illegal logging that was was blamed for the diminishing water levels in the country's key rivers.

Environment Secretary Keriako Tobiko on Friday said the extension of the ban would facilitate the rehabilitation of forests.

He said the move would also pave way for a total overhaul of the Kenya Forest Service's (KFS) management structure and processes, curb corruption and enhancing its effectiveness.

“The extension will allow the scaling up of the ongoing tree planting campaigns that aims at achieving a 10 per cent forest cover by 2022,” he said.

The extension of the ban dashes any hopes by sawmill owners that the restrictions on logging in public forests would be eased.

Since the ban, the cost of construction has been going up, with timber and poles becoming scarce and thus more expensive.

In his Friday's statement, Mr Tobiko also called for a review on the selection of sawmills permitted to log in public forests.

He said the current mechanism was prone to graft, with no criteria in place in choosing sawmills with expertise and the capacity required for the tasks allocated.

Mr Tobiko also invited the Auditor-General’s office to conduct a forensic audit into the Green Schools programmes conducted by his ministry since 2014, revenue collection and transmission under KFS to treasury, the Shamba system, valuation and sale of forest stocks.

He added that the shamba system, where people are allowed to grow crops in the forests, will be allowed to continue for the next four years ahead of a planned total phase-out to allow regeneration of exotic and indigenous trees.

The CS said national and county governments will also be required to actively participate in tree planting, with an audit conducted to gauge the effectiveness of the reforestation efforts.

Mr Tobiko also ordered an immediate lifestyle audit of KFS staff as well as a thorough audit on their respective stations.

He said those found culpable will be relieved off their duties ahead of their criminal prosecution.

The CS said a Sh18 billion restoration plan set for rollout in the next five years had been submitted to the Presidential delivery unit for funding consideration.