Leave kaya forests alone, miners told
| Sep 16th 2014 | 2 min read
The Kilifi government has threatened to revoke the licences of mining firms that encroach on land gazetted as kaya forests or shrines.
Environment County Executive Mwachitu Kiringi yesterday said some miners licensed by the national government were flouting mining regulations and threatening kaya forests.
Mr Kiringi said most of these firms encroached on forest land to destroy forest cover in their search for minerals in these areas and disclosed that the county government had also allowed 10 firms to prospect for minerals in Ganze sub-county and expected them to observe regulations.
Kiringi spoke when he met journalists and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) officials touring the kaya forests in Kwale and Kilifi counties to assess the extent of damage to the sacred forests by private developers and locals.
He said one of the forests damaged by investors was Kaya Kauma, where he claimed they had reports that illegal work was going on.
"We have had cases where mineral mining and exploration firms have encroached on Kaya Kauma and damaged the sacred forest. We have told them to stop doing this or face legal action," he said.
The chairman of Kaya Kauma, Hillary Mwatsuma, also said that firms had entered the forest in search of manganese and called on the national and county governments to intervene.
Kiringi also warned mining firms against hampering conservation efforts by felling indigenous trees.
WWF officials led by Elias Kimaru, who is in charge of Kwale County, said they discovered that most kaya forests in Kwale and Kilifi had been invaded by sand harvesters, miners or farmers.
Kimaru said WWF had initiated a five-year plan to train and incorporate kaya elders into actively protecting and conserving their sacred forests.
"WWF in collaboration with other sacred forest conservation units like the National Museums of Kenya has drawn a five-year plan for training and empowering kaya elders to assume a leading role in protecting and conserving these forests," he said.
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