Government extends forest logging ban by another year
The government has extended the moratorium on logging in public and community forests by another year.
In a statement by Environment CS Keriako Tobiko said the extension period would see the establishment of a multi-agency team to audit of mature plantations.
“The moratorium which was due to end on November 24 has been extended for a further period of twelve months,” he said.
Tobiko said a multi-agency team will be constituted to, among others, undertake an independent mapping, verification, and valuation of all mature and over mature forest plantations.
“The team shall submit its report to the government within four months,” he said.
This is the third extension of the logging ban which was first imposed in February 2018.
After the ban, the government formed the task force on forest resource management and logging activities where the final report was presented on April 30, 2018.
The report revealed massive destruction and depletion of forest cover where the country was losing 12 acres of forest annually.
The task force, which was chaired by Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Kamau, said the KFS board had institutionalised corruption. This led to the suspension of senior KFS officials.
After the expiry of the logging ban, the government on May 23, 2018, extended the ban for another six months.
The moratorium drew criticism from saw millers and timber products merchants who complained the ban had caused massive job losses.
Last week, Timber Workers Association, under the umbrella of Kenya Building and Construction, Timber and Furniture Workers’ Union, called on timber companies to effect payments of workers declared redundant after logging ban by the government.
Nakuru branch secretary Maurice Shiundu urged companies to pay workers their dues after it emerged that a sizable number of workers had not been paid after they were laid off.
“Timber companies must effect payments of workers declared redundant after logging ban by the government, it has emerged that a sizable number of workers had not been paid since their removal. More than 10,000 workers have been left jobless,” said Shiundu.
The affected towns include Elburgon, Maji Mazuri, Mau Summit, as well as Timboroa where business flourished throughout due to its closeness to the Mau Forest and high demand for timber products.
But the ban was a blessing in disguise for commercial tree farmers.
Joram Kariuki, a commercial tree farmer in Elburgon, says the ban has opened a new chapter in the timber industry hence can now reap from their venture.
“This is the time for a country to rethink its strategy of only concentrating on managing and preserving government-owned forests but focus on increasing agroforestry and promoting commercial tree farming,” said Kariuki, who has over 2,000 trees on his two acres of land. He urged Kenyans to embrace tree farming for financial stability.