FOREST conservationists and stakeholders have asked for an intervention to ensure the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service reach an understanding to save Kenya's dwindling forest cover. Officials of the Kenya Forests Working Group revealed that the country loses more than Sh32 billion annually through charcoal burning. They added that if the forests are properly managed, they could boost Kenya's economy.
KFWG said the country loses about 12,000 acres of forest cover annually due to illegal loggers and charcoal burners. They said the two state agencies over management of forests is undermining conservation in key water towers. The KFWG National Coordinator Rudolf Makhanu said lack of proper co-ordination could lead to degradation of forests and derail achieved efforts. He said charcoal business employs 70,000 people while wood biogas provides 80% of Kenya's energy needs and Research has shown that 94% of wood harvested is used for firewood.
KFWG Project manager Jackson Bambo was speaking after a fact-finding mission of Coastal and Rift Valley forests. The visit established that illegal loggers and charcoal burners have invaded the gazetted forests with minimal or no supervision by government agencies. He said there are fears that human wildlife conflicts could increase if indigenous sections of the forest that provide food and habitat for the Wildlife animals are depleted.
The chairman of Chepsir Environmental conservation group in Mau, Daniel Rotich, said this problem is compounded by the lack of an effective government with the power, authority, and will to restrict the activities of charcoal traders. He said springs that provide water to residents of Molo, Kuresoi, Njoro, Chepsir and Chepseon in Nakuru and Kericho are likely to dry up soon.