The Government has imposed a three-month logging ban in the country following widespread outcry over the wanton and consistent loss of forest cover to logging, a fact that continues to expose Kenya to the vagaries of climate change.
Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday ordered the immediate suspension of timber harvesting in all public and community forests for three months, directing the Ministry of Environment to ensure the ban is enforced.
“The Government has with immediate effect imposed a moratorium on timber harvesting in all public and community forests for a period of ninety days to allow reassessment and rationalisation of the entire forest sector in Kenya,” Ruto said.
The DP, in a statement justified the radical move, noting that the country has faced an acute water shortage for the past three years due to the destruction of forests and encroachment of water towers.
“Deforestation, degradation and encroachment of water towers and other catchment areas coupled with uncontrolled human activities including wanton logging have threatened and undermined our country’s capability to ensure food security,” he said.
Ruto also tasked the Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, in consultation with relevant stakeholders to constitute a task force and prepare a report within two weeks on the forest sector, and propose appropriate remedial measures for the problem.
Tobiko said that his ministry would do its part in protecting the country’s flora and fauna.
“We shall relentlessly maintain our focus on environmental conservation matters including a total ban for plastic carry bags and action against unscrupulous persons engaging in environmental degradation acts such as illegal logging,” Tobiko said.
He also said that the ministry will not isolate itself while working to protect the country’s forests and water towers, but will instead partner with different players to facilitate the execution of key programmes touching on climate change, solid waste management and afforestation.
Tobiko was speaking at the Green Belt Movement head offices. The movement was founded by the late Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977, and has contributed to the country’s reafforestation efforts.
The ban on logging comes three days after Members of the National Assembly Environment and Natural Resource Committee appealed to the Government to consider totally banning logging to save the water towers.
Yesterday, members of the committee led by their chairperson Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) and his Deputy Sophia Noor (Ijara) lauded the move by the State, pointing out that it will go a long way in reversing the effects of deforestation.
“As a committee we thank the Government for taking our suggestion into consideration. We fully support the decision and we will support the Government to see to it that the directive is followed to the letter,” Mr Mbiuki said.
Hilary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), a member of the committee asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare the current environmental crisis as a national disaster, pointing out that it is the only way that the issue can be dealt with the seriousness it deserves.
“It is a national disaster and the state Government should declare it so, because that is the only way well-wishers including foreign aid donors can come in assist save our forests and water towers,” said Mr Kosgei.
As a way of effectively conserving the environment, the House team is also proposing that the state agencies that are involved in Forest Management and the Kenya Water Towers should all be consolidated under the presidency.