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Kenya Forest Services raises red flag over destruction of Arabuko Forest

By Maureen D Ongala | Published Fri, March 2nd 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 1st 2018 at 19:46 GMT +3
Kenya Forest Service Board Chairman Peter Kinyua raised concerns over the destruction of Arabuko forest during the signing of the Kilifi Mangroove forest management action (FMA). [Photo by Maureen Ongala/Standard

Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) has raised concern over the ongoing destruction of Arabuko Sokoke Forest.

KFS board chairman Peter Kinyua said existing laws were too weak to enforce protection and conservation measures. He warned that logging and other human activities could wipe out Arabuko's prized flora and fauna.

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Arabuko forest is the largest coastal forest in East Africa. It hosts 30 per cent and 20 per cent of Kenya's butterfly and bird species respectively.

Speaking at Ihaleni, Kilifi Creek, during the signing of Kilifi Mangrove Forest Management Action (FMA), Mr Kinyua said destruction of the forest should be stopped immediately.

“This forest should not be the one to be destroyed. I have been watching it and thinking what to do. It is a small forest of only 420 square kilometres and we must be able to protect it,” he said.

He was accompanied by KFS board member John Miriti and Deputy Chief Conservator Charity Munyesia.

"My foresters must know where the destruction is taking place. If they see a lot of carvings from a particular place, then they should know where the wood is coming from."

Kinyua said it was difficult to stop cutting of trees in the country because the Forest Act was weak.

The forestry department, he revealed, would appeal to the National Assembly to amend the Forestry Act to strenghten efforts against logging.

“There is a problem with the Forestry Act as it has no stiff penalties. If a person is arrested with trees he can just walk away,” he said.

According to the Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016, anyone who commits a logging offence is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh100, 000 or to imprisonment for not more than six months.

He urged Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika to help save the forest.