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Kenya government must act fast to stop illegal logging

By Nicholas Asego | November 7th 2016

The wanton destruction of forests by illegal loggers out for quick cash is alarming.

It is exposing millions of Kenyans to an environmental disaster.

It poses great danger to our five water towers - Mau Forest Complex, Mount Kenya, the Aberdares, Mount Elgon and Cherangani.

These five are the bedrock of the country’s renewable surface water sources.

Loggers are undermining efforts by the country to improve its forest cover, which currently stands at 6.99 per cent; below the internationally recommended 10 per cent.

For example, in Nyanza’s six counties, the cover is below three per cent with the latest report by the Kenya Forest Service showing that Siaya and Kisumu have a paltry 0.42 per cent, Kisii 2.62 and Homa Bay 2.59.

In Mt Kenya and the Aberdare Forest, illegal logging has left huge parts of the forests bare.
Kenya Forest Service estimates losses in excess of Sh20 billion to the economy as forests and forest products support other major sectors of the economy including agriculture, fisheries, livestock, energy, wildlife, water, tourism and trade.

But it is the uncontrolled logging that poses the greatest threat. It calls for immediate action from the Government. Some years ago, the Government started an initiative to restore Mau Forest. Similar calls are needed for other areas. It must be an initiative devoid of any political connotations.

The Government must also take action on officials who abet such destruction.

The logs are large and need heavy machinery to cut them down, transport and sell them.

There is a high likelihood of involvement of senior forest officials. These forests are a national asset and must be protected by all.

We owe it to our children to do that. As 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the late Wangari Maathai said, “... the generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price”.

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