9 November 2005

Kenya: Maathai Warns State On Forest Settlements

Nairobi — Environment Assistant minister Prof Wangari Maathai has called on the Government to stop settling people in forests.

Maathai said although she was in the Government, she was opposed to the decision ,but had no authority to stop the move.

"I am personally opposed to the issue of settling people in the forest. If I had powers, nobody would be allowed to settle in forests. But, unfortunately, I'm powerless," she said.

Speaking at Wamagana Hall in her Tetu constituency on Monday, the Nobel Peace Laureate vowed to continue agitating for conservation of forests.

She singled out the Mau Forest where the Government recently allowed evictees to resettle.

Maathai said there was need to conserve the remaining forest cover from further exploitation to avoid future catastrophe.

She said her ministry had advised the Government, with assistance from donors, to buy land for resettling those encroaching into forestland countrywide.

"We cannot go on eating into our forests and yet we are complaining of water shortage. The Government must conserve the remaining forests," said Maathai.

Meanwhile, Maathai has faulted the current laws on drug abuse, saying they favour traffickers and users.

"Our country has become a conduit of all sort of drugs and this is the time to reverse the trend if we want to save future generations," said Maathai.

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