Kenya turns to technology to monitor illegal activities in Forests

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya on Friday launched a mobile application (app) to monitor forests in order to curb illegal logging.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Director Emilio Mugo said that the smart phone application will enable users to report illegal activities in the forest.

“We expect the app to compliment the efforts of law enforcement officers to conserve Kenya’s forests,” Mugo said during the 20 year celebrations of the Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG).

“Kenya's forests are spread across the country and we don’t have sufficient resources to monitor activities in all forests at real time,” he said.

According to government data, forest covers seven percent of Kenya’s land mass.

The director noted that Kenya has 142,000 hectares of plantation forest to supply wood to the timber industry.

“We don’t allow logging in indigenous forest as they are used for conservation of watersheds and for use as wildlife habitats,” he said.

KFS said that the country has sufficient supply of wood to  satisfy domestic requirements although Kenya imports small amounts from Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda

National Coordinator of the KFWG Jackson Bambo said Kenya’s forests are under threat from human encroachment.

“Expanding population has forced some communities to clear forests for agriculture activity,” Bambo said.

He added that the mobile app which is a joint initiative of the Kenya Forests Working Group and the University of Nairobi will enable communities to report on forests activities to a centralized server.

“The technology system will reduce the cost of forest surveillance and is expected to enhance forests monitoring and reporting by various stakeholders for informed decision making,” he said.

The system users are only required to have a smart phone to report any incidence in real time.
The coordinator said that the app will help to educate the millions of  Kenyans who have smart phones  but have little information on forests conservation.

Kenya Forest ServicesKenya Forest Working Group