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ELECTION 2022

MPs should reject Bill that endangers forests

EDITORIAL
By Editorial | Jan 21st 2022 | 2 min read

A tree stamp depicting a deforestation area at Kieni West in Mt Kenya Forest [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

The negative effects of deforestation are evident to all.

Weather patterns have become erratic; a change that has brought about poor rainfall patterns negatively impacting our agricultural production but more worryingly, resulted in the destruction of water towers. This has in turn led to the drying up of some rivers hence, water scarcity.

While more efforts should be put into forest conservation, the Forest Conservation and Management Amendment Bill 2021 could claw back gains made towards achieving a 10 per cent forest cover of the total land mass. The bill seeks to repeal Section 34 of the Act that protects forests from activities that endanger rare, threatened or endangered species.

In 2018, Kenya’s estimated forest cover stood at six per cent, way below the recommended 10 per cent of the total land mass. There have been deliberate efforts to increase our forest cover, and to this end, the government imposed a ban on logging in 2018 as a way of putting an end to the mindless destruction of forests. Further, people encroaching on forests were ejected and charcoal burning proscribed.

Rivers and streams that have given sustenance to humanity for millennia are slowly drying up because of severe deforestation. At least 107,000 hectares of forest, which is the equivalent of 25 per cent of the Mau Forest, Kenya’s largest water catchment area, have been destroyed in the past 20 years. This must stop and by all means, we must reclaim our lost forests.

We cannot tackle climate change effects without laws that protect nature, which is why the passage of this bill possess danger to our conservation efforts and should be rejected. The passage of the bill might embolden brazen land grabbers and renewed encroachment on forests and water sources. We are already feeling the heat of climate change, a problem that partly arises from deforestation. MPs should reject this bill unless, of course, its intention is to expand, not reduce the forest cover.

 

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