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Logging ban derails forest cover goal as traders go for homes

Sunday December 30 2018
Narok trees

Officers of the Mau Forest Joint Enforcement Unit, seize a lorry in which 1,200 cedar tree logs were found August 21, 2018. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION TEAM

When the government banned logging in all public forests, the move was seen by conservationists as a step towards increasing forest cover nationwide.

However, as the timber shortage continues, traders are now buying trees from homeowners.

DEPLETION

Conservationists are worried that the heavy harvesting of trees is depleting the cover in homes across the country and hampering the government bid to increase tree cover to 10 percent by 2022.

Timber dealers have flocked most parts of Nyandarua County to buy trees.

“Since the moratorium on logging was issued, we have witnessed many lorries ferrying logs from this area to other parts of the country," said Mr Moses Wangari; a resident of Boiman in Ol Jooro Orok Constituency.

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"The companies, most of which have migrated to the area with their heavy machinery, are buying trees large scale, depending on acreage. They are also buying immature trees."

He noted that a log costs between Sh650 and Sh1,500, depending on the size.

EVERYTHING GOES

Mr Paul Njoroge, a local timber dealer, said they have since experienced a shortage of cypress and red ciders as large scale tree buying companies, from as far as Thika and Kisumu, have flocked the area.

Mr Njoroge noted that they were buying trees depending on sizes and species.

“We are buying a giant red cider tree from Sh7,000 while a cypress tree of the same size goes for between Sh 3,500 and Sh5,000,” he said.

“These companies are clearing everything. They even uproot tree stumps and buy immature trees,” added the trader.

PLEA

Ms Jenifer Situma, the a Nyandarua conservator, also said that since the ban on logging was declared, traders have turned to private forests.

She observed that the move was compromising the bid to achieve 10 percent forest cover across the country.

“Since the moratorium was declared, we have witnessed heavy felling of trees in private farms. This could affect the gains we have made in our forest cover bid,” said Ms Situma.

Nyandarua West Deputy County Commissioner Mr Hezron Nyamberi has called on Kenya Forest Service to control tree harvesting in private farms.

MILLS CLOSED

In Elburgon township in Nakuru County, many sawmills have been closed due to a shortage of timber.

But land owners who planted trees are making money from the traders who have flocked the area.

Mr Arthur Kiriro, who planted 250 cypress trees, said he sold 120 mature trees in November and made a good amount of money.

"I sold a log at between Sh3,000 and Sh7,000 depending on the size," he said, noting that before the ban, a log cost between Sh500 and Sh 2,000.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Association of Timber Manufacturers said some members have defaulted their loan repayments due to the ban.

“Some were servicing huge bank loans,” said Mr Benard Kimani.

Reporting by Francis Mureithi, John Njoroge, Steve Njuguna and Joseph Openda

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