30 January 2006

Kenya: Traders Want Logging Ban Lifted

Nairobi — Timber traders have called on the Government to lift the ban on logging, saying that some trees in the forests may rot.

The Association of Timber Manufacturers chairman, Mr George Gitonga, said in Kitale at the weekend that trees such as pine needed to be harvested immediately upon maturing.

But he thanked the Government for allowing saw-millers to harvest trees at the Ndoinet forest in Nakuru District, saying that this was earning the Government Sh95 million in revenue annually.

The Government banned logging five years ago, arguing that saw-millers were destroying forests.

Mr Gitonga said the continued ban would be counterproductive as mature trees would go to waste.

Punishment to families

Another association official, Mr Zakayo Maina, said the ban was punishing thousands of families who depended on the industry through employment.

He said saw-millers were now taking an active part in reforestation to replenish the forests.

Mr Jacob Mwanduka of the Friends of Mau Water Catchment lobby group suggested that private management of government forests be encouraged.

In another development, the Government has suspended logging permits in Marakwet District to curb illegal tree felling.

District commissioner Lawrence Lenayapa ordered the forestry department to stop issuing the licences "until further notice."

The action covers harvesting logs on private farms, the DC said, and accused some timber traders of colluding with the residents to cut trees in the government forest.

First official function

Mr Lenayapa was addressing district officers, chiefs and assistant chiefs when he met them in Kapsowar town.

The meeting was his first official function since coming to the district two weeks ago.

He blamed what he termed wanton forest destruction on squatters in the public forest.

Additional reporting by Philemon Suter

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