2 January 2013

Kenya: Mau Forest Destruction Worries Narok Residents

Conservationists and Narok North area residents are concerned about an increasing illegal logging and charcoal burning in the Mau forest.

The Kenya Forests Working Group said logging in Enaibelibel and Sasimuani is frustrating ongoing effort to restore the Mau forest cover.

"There is widespread timber harvesting and charcoal burning inside the indigenous sections of the forest," says KFWG projects officer Jackson Bambo said after a visit to the area by KFWG which found several live charcoal kilns and freshly cut tree trunks.

Mr Bambo observed that the forest destruction happens barely a kilometre into he forest . "Unlike in other areas where destruction occurs deep inside the forest, what we are seeing in Enaibelibel and Sasimuani shows an outright laxity in law enforcement," says Bambo.

The forest is an important water catchment as it forms catchment for Ewaso Ngiro and Mara rivers. Conservationists fear that Orea African and Orea Capensisi tree species may be wiped out if the forest destruction does not stop.

At the same time, area Community Forest Association is now calling for government intervention to avert the escalating trend.

The forest destruction according to the area residents happens in broad daylight. Mr Wilson Memusi, an elder, Ongiek community observes that most of the charcoal is transported to Narok and Nakuru.

The area youth, elders and the community are unhappy about the current tree cutting and want the Narok County Council to protect the forest or let Kenya Forest Service (KFS) manage the forest.

"The forest is loosing hundreds of trees daily while at the same time posing serious fire threats to the indigenous tree cover," says Francis Yenko, area youth leader.

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