Over 4,500 acres of Mau Forest recovered, says official

Security personnel undertakes eviction at Kosia area in Maasai Mau forest. (Robert Kiplagat, Standard)
More than 4,500 acres of Maasai Mau forest have been reclaimed by the Government since the ban on charcoal burning and logging was issued last year.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) said the recovered land in Kosia, Nkoben and parts of Nkareta has been regenerating over the past one year, especially after the first phase of Mau evictions that saw over 10,000 illegal settlers flushed out.

Speaking at Olmariko Operation Camp in Narok after an aerial survey of the forest, KFS Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko said since the ban was effected, 2,325 people had been arrested with 16,527 bags of charcoal impounded and 18 tonnes of timber recovered.

Despite the ban, KFS official revealed that there are cartels in Narok, Nakuru and Nyanza that are still harvesting olive trees, which are endangered species.

SEE ALSO :All set for Mau forest evictions

“Indigenous trees such as cedar and olive trees are at higher risk of being depleted due to their high quality charcoal, timber and poles. Recently, we nabbed a lorry-full of the illegal consignment and we are zeroing in on these cartels and they will face the law,” warned Mr Lemarkoko.

The forest restoration efforts, he said, suffered setback in the recent drought after wild fires destroyed huge tracts of the Olposimoru forest.

He said cattle grazing in the entire Mau Forest ecosystem has been banned to avert the harvesting of indigenous trees.

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On the phase two of the Mau Forest evictions, which targets over 40,000 people, the commandant said his team was waiting for a directive from the Ministry of Environment.

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Maasai Mau forestKenya Forest ServiceKosiaOlmariko Operation CampNarok