Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has promised to punish illegal loggers defying the government’s ban on logging by sneaking into forests for timber.
Tobiko sounded the warning yesterday during his inspection tour of Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests. He said over-exploitation of water resources hurts conservation efforts.
“It is clear there’s massive over-exploitation upstream. In Sagana River, there are about 75 intake points and 45 on Thegu River, which is high,” Tobiko said.
Suspected loggers sneak into the forests around Mt Kenya for timber, which they sell to local sawmillers. The CS was with Kenya Forest Service chairman Peter Kinyua. He said the extension of the 90-day logging moratorium by six months is still in force. The ban was issued in May to streamline management of local forestry.
The Environment ministry recently appointed a KFS board of management to push for the project’s process. Security surveillance by a multiagency team has been beefed up to nab individuals engaging in illegal activities depleting the forests, especially at the Kabaru Forest Station in Nyeri.
“Protecting our environment and forests is a shared responsibility that we shall pursue to make … urban and rural towns environmental centres of excellence,” Tobiko said.
He was responding to recent media reports showing that months after the government banned logging to restore water levels, logging was recorded in Kabaruu. Loggers mainly target the red cedar trees.
Tobiko said he will consult Water CS Simon Chelugui to do a study on environmental interference in Mt Kenya Forest.
In March, Deputy President William Ruto said the 90-day ban on logging must be observed. He asked concerned authorities to take the ban seriously “since it is not a government PR stunt”.
“There will be no logging and felling of trees in both gazetted government and community forests”.
The DP spoke during the launch of a 10-member task force to review forestry management. The team is headed by Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Kamau.
Ruto said, “Sacrifices must be made to restore the lost forest cover in the country.”