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Illegal loggers invade Aberdares forest

By | March 30th 2012 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By BONIFACE GIKANDI

Timber merchants have invaded a section of the Aberdares Forest and are felling trees indiscriminately.

This was after the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) allegedly allowed community groups around Gatare block to collect firewood, but merchants have secretly registered and are felling trees for timber and selling to tea processing factories.

Through forest protection initiative, Community Forest Association (CFA), members are allowed to buy quantities of firewood rated at cubic meters.

A source told The Standard that the CFA groups from Kanderendu, Kinyona and Mununga areas in Kigumo District are allowed into the forest.

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Investigation by The Standard has revealed that some rogue groups have registered and penetrate deep into the forest where they fell trees.

The groups have also been supplying firewood to nearby tea processing factories in Kandara and Kigumo districts.

The illegal loggers have reportedly paid Sh35,000 for registration as group members to enable them enter the forest.

Gatare Block in Murang’a County has attracted illegal loggers who also operate timber yards at Kangari and Thika towns.

A director at Nduti Tea Factory who declined to be named confirmed that the factory has purchased logs smuggled from the forest for tea processing purposes.

"Traders have placed orders with factories on grounds that they have been allowed by KFS to collect firewood from the forest," said the director.

Conservation

Merchants transport tonnes of firewood out of the forest at night.

Demand for firewood has been necessitated by the anticipated heavy rains in April, which is likely to frustrate transporters’ entry in forests.

However, Murang’a South KFS Manager, a Mr Owate, said he was not aware that the community groups were selling firewood to tea factories.

Owate said five community groups registered in Gatare, and which work towards conservation, are allowed to collect firewood from the block, and not to harvest trees.


Aberdares forest logging Kenya Forest Service
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