Court sets new orders on logging, freezes licensing

"The harvesting to be in strict compliance including adhering to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), rules and regulations. Save for the 5,000 hectares, a conservatory orders be and are hereby issued barring issuance of licenses by the respondents or their assigns, employees or proxies until further orders of the court," he ruled.

In his verdict, the Judge observed that despite the KFS stating that it had a strategic plan for tree cutting and planting, it never produced the same in court nor did it furnish the information to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

Meanwhile, the Judge also ordered the government to implement the 2018 recommendations of a task force on the protection of forests and the environment within three months and report it to the court.

Nevertheless, he was of the view that there was no evidence that President William Ruto lifted the logging moratorium.

According to him, the roadside announcement was not proof that paved the way for logging. The Judge said any presidential declaration has to be written and sealed for it to have the effect of the law.

He observed that instead, the deal brokered between KFS and timber companies in two cases filed in Embu and Nyeri High Courts was at the heart of lifting the ban.

However, the Judge said that the deal was illegal, as the High Court has no power to hear cases on right to a clean environment.

The government banned logging in 2018 in order to restore the country's forest cover.

However, President Ruto on July 2 this year, announced that the Kenya Kwanza Government had come up with a policy to allow logging.

In the case, LSK lawyer Kennedy Waweru argued that there was no scientific proof or research that Kenya has more than enough trees to allow sawmills and loggers to start felling them.

Further, Waweru stated that although the President indicated that logging will benefit families and persons who live near forests, on the flip side, the majority of Kenyans will in the end suffer due to climate change.

LSK in its case says it fears that the government is hell-bent on introducing the infamous shamba system that was banned in 2002 over abuse.

In her affidavit, the society's Chief Executive Officer Florence Muturi told the court that Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has in public forums indicated that the government will allow farming in forests.

She asserted that the decision will erode Kenya's efforts to attain 10 per cent forest cover.

LSK sued Attorney General Justin Muturi, Forestry Cabinet Secretary Sopian Tuya, and the National Environment Management Authority.