A new wave of illegal activities in section of Kenya's forests has been discovered.
Some of the activities noted along the expansive Uaso Kedong Valley and other fragile ASAL ecosystems in Narok, Nakuru and Kajiado Counties include charcoal making, cedar post chopping and erection of illegal makeshift structures in private, community and public forests against the provisions of the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016.
Revelation resulting from Kenya Forest Service operation indicates that illegal charcoal burners are camping deep inside forests cutting down indigenous trees for charcoal making and poaching wildlife to sustain their stay in the bushes.
“What is coming out from a joint operation between Kenya Forest Service and administration officers along Uaso Kedong Valley and other fragile ASAL ecosystems is a new trend in forest destruction,” said Julius Kamau, Chief Conservator of Forest.
“Illegal activities such as charcoal making, cedar post chopping and erection of illegal makeshift structures in private are emerging that needs to be stopped urgently,’’ he noted
He said that so far, three suspects have been arrested in connection with charcoal making and they have been booked at Kiserian Police Station.
According to the conservator, the operation has now progressed to Kedong ranch in Nakuru County to "Akira one" area of Kedong ranch where 237 charcoal kilns have so far been destroyed, 21 makeshift structures pulled down, and 15 bags of ready charcoal destroyed.
He said that it is believed that the illegal activities in Akira one are being perpetrated by local residents living in "Akira two" section of Kedong ranch where currently there is a human settlement in manyattas setups.
“There were no people at Akira one when the operation was being executed,” he added.
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) said it is embracing the human rights approach in the execution of its operation. However, at the same time, the service has a huge responsibility in also protecting the basic fundamental rights of millions of Kenyans to access to both clean water and clean environment that can only be guaranteed if forests are conserved and protected from such illegalities.
It sent out an appeal to all members of the public to join hands in the fight against forest destruction and its allied resources and to assist in the restoration of these critical forest resources for the survival of present and future generations.
“Members of the public are also reminded that the current moratorium on logging in public and community forest is still in force and that any body found engaging in logging and or charcoal-burning in these forests will be arrested and prosecuted.”
On Thursday, rangers from Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and scouts from Mt. Kenya Trust also unearthed illegal charcoal burning with the Mt Kenya National Park.
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