The Nation (Nairobi)

Kenya: Court Allows Talks in Row Over Forests

Nairobi — The Government and environmentalists were yesterday allowed to hold talks to resolve a stand-off over the alienation of large tracts of forest land countrywide.

The High Court agreed to set aside for three months a case in which the environmentalists are challenging the State's excision plans affecting nearly 12 forest blocks to pave the way for the talks.

Judges Joseph Nyamu, Roselyne Wendoh and Anyara Emukule said the participation of all the interested parties was crucial, and that discussions were the way forward.

Legality of excisions

They granted an application by lawyer Musalia Mwenesi, for the environment groups, seeking to have the case adjourned to allow the talks.

The Kenya Alliance of Residents Association, the East African Wildlife Society, the Environment Liaison Centre and several other individuals have sued the Government questioning the legality of the excisions, and have been granted judicial review orders stopping them until the case is heard and determined.

The forests are Kapsaret, Nabkoi, Eastern Mau, South Nandi, Mt Londiani and Molo.

Others are South Eastern and Western Mau, Northern Tinderet, Mt Kenya and Marmanet.

Recent developments

Mr Mwenesi told the judges yesterday that there was need for talks between the parties in view of recent developments on the forest land.

They include the passing into law of the Forest Bill and the appointment of a ministerial team to oversee its implementation, as well as the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the association and the National Environmental Management Authority.

The application was supported by Law Society of Kenya advocate Odhiambo Mak'Oloo, but opposed by State counsel Antony Ombwayo, for the attorney-general.

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