5 May 2005

Kenya: Forest Cover Dwindling Fast, New Study Shows

Nairobi — Kenya faces a major wood shortage because plantation forests are not regenerating fast enough.

According to a World Bank-sponsored study, the shortage might continue up to 2015 unless its arrested.

Though conditions for plantation forestry in Kenya are superb, regeneration had been poor leading to in a declining and aging forest.

The study was done by Mr Roger Sedjo, a World Bank consultant, whose report says forests in Kenya:

Provide a permanent flow of wood for products;

Generate a permanent flow of revenue for the Government;

Provide an alternative to the import of forest products.

The poor forest regeneration has led to a serious shortage of industrial timber.

The study also says poor choice of species was another major problem. These species are suitable for many areas but take time to mature and have reduced financial returns.

The director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute in Muguga, Mr Paul Konuche , shows President Mwai Kibaki tree seedlings used in research when the Head of State visited the institute yesterday afternoon. Looking on is Environment minister Kalonzo Musyoka. Photo by Fredrick Onyango.

To minimise the crisis, the report recommends the introduction of fast-growing trees like eucalyptus.

Kenya's forests cover is 1.7 million hectares. Of these, 160 thousand ha is plantation forest.

The research says the acreage of plantation forest is down to 120 thousand ha due to population pressure.

"Given the high population density and low income levels in much of the plantation region, local pressures on some of the plantation lands in the form of encroachment are often severe," it adds.

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