11 May 2006

Kenya: Ban Imposed On Charcoal Trade to Save Public Forests

Nairobi — The movement of charcoal from Turkana to neighbouring districts has been banned.

This is intended to protect forests, which are being destroyed by charcoal burners, according to the district environment committee.

However, members yesterday said at a meeting chaired by district officer Philip Nzungo in Lodwar Town that the sale of charcoal within the district would continue.

The committee warned that anyone found cutting trees for commercial charcoal burning would be charged in court.

Local police were given the mandate to enforce the ban, which officials say is key to check environmental degradation.

The committee also asked the Turkana county council to draft by-laws to protect forests, saying lack of legislation had led to indiscriminate cutting of trees and rangelands degradation.

A survey by the district forest department in February showed that thousands of bags of charcoal are transported to the neighbouring Trans Nzoia district for sale.

The expansion of the irrigation schemes at Kainuk and Katilu had encroached on forests and encouraged illegal charcoal burning. Kangatosa, Napusmoru, Kaptir, Kalemungorok, Kakong, Eliye spring and Lomopus forests as well as one along the Turkwel river are among those that are being depleted by charcoal burners, according to the survey.

The study was carried out to provide information to help interested groups come up with measures to regulate the use of public forests.

The district forest officer, Ms Anne Itubo, warned that communities were in danger of losing an important local tree known locally as Ewoi (acacia tortilis) in the next five years if the charcoal burning trend was not checked.

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