The Star (Nairobi)

20 June 2012

Kenya: 29,000 Acres of Forest Cover Lost Annually

Kenya loses at least 12,000 hectares of forest cover every year to illegal loggers and charcoal burners while efforts to achieve the required 10 percent forest cover have been affected by differences between Kenya Wildlife Services and Kenya Forest Service. The two government agencies have in the last months differed over the management of various water towers.

According to the Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG) national coordinator Rudolf Makhanu these differences are worrying. Makhanu called for intervention to bring the agencies to an understanding so as to save the dwindling forest cover. He was speaking to the press after a fact finding mission of Kuresoi, Chagaik and Cheboswa forests in South Western Mau.

The visit established that illegal loggers and charcoal burners have little or minimal supervision from the government agencies. "If this trend is allowed to continue then the government should declare illegal logging and charcoal burning a disaster," Makhanu said. "They transport the trees and charcoal out of the forests at night using donkeys to nearby shopping centres before being ferried to Kericho, Nakuru and Nairobi regions," he added. Kuresoi, Chagaik and Cheboswa forests form important forest blocks in the Mau complex and extend to both Nakuru and Kericho counties.

KFWG project officer Jackson Mbabo said that human wildlife conflicts which are now minimal could increase if indigenous sections of the forest which provide food and habitat for elephants are depleted of vegetation. On their part, the Chepsir residents said the forests are important catchments for several rivers and streams among them Chirchila, Birbay and Timbirir. "Even Kericho residents are supplied with water from these forests but if this habits are allowed to continue then they could spark an environmental crisis," said Alphonce Rotich, a resident.

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