Court reverses Ruto order allowing logging in public forests

Members of Kaptagat Community Forest Association inspect trees felled by illegal loggers at Kaptagat Forest on April 13, 2020. [File, Standard]

In the case where Attorney General Justin Muturi, Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Sopian Tuya, and National Environment Management Authority have been named as respondents, Waweru termed the decision as too drastic noting there was no public participation before lifting the ban.

LSK has also listed Katiba Institute, Natural Justice, and Greenbelt Movement as interested parties.

"It is therefore at the heart of the sustainable development agenda, and noting there is lacking such scientific research nor policy outlining the Kenyan case based on the underpinning legal provisions, that the Honorable Court must find it necessary to issue the orders sought herein in the interim failure of which the irreversible effects of deforestation shall continue to ravage the country," said Waweru.

The lawyer said the president's roadside announcement has not been documented in any government records.

Adverse effects

"The media has documented adverse effects of logging from when the President lifted the ban," said Waweru.

The court heard loggers and saw millers have cut down a lot of indigenous trees since the ban was lifted.

"Respondents have not issued any Gazette Notice to this effect, nor has there been public participation nor any research-based policies, concessions or any management reports published in support of the said presidential directive, and the same lacks in procedure, is made in bad faith and a great rollback on the gains anticipated with the government pronouncements previously made on increasing the forest cover," Waweru said.

LSK, in its case, accused the government of being hell-bent to introduce the infamous Shamba System that was banned in 2002 over abuse.

In her affidavit, LSK's CEO Florence Muturi told the court that Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has, in public forums, indicated that the government would allow farming in forests.

Government decision

She asserted that the government's decision will erode Kenya's efforts to attain 10 per cent forest cover.

"Such statements fly in the face of our constitutional and legal underpinnings noting too well that the Shamba System has been abused as farmers have been allowed to turn large sections of indigenous forests into farmlands, destroying local biodiversity and greatly reducing the capacity of forests to be effective water reservoirs," said Muruti.

The case will be heard on August 14.