8 February 2013

Kenya: State Sanctions Nandi Forest Harvest Amid Protest

The government has approved timber harvesting in public forests in Nandi in a move that has sparked protests from environmentalists.

The plan will lead to the destruction of forests over the election season, just like was the case in the 2007/8 polls when timber dealers extensively destroyed forests.

Officials from the Friends of Nandi Environment (FONE) have written to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) demanding an end to the planned harvesting of timber in gazetted forests without following regulations.

"The plan is illegal because due process of the law has not been followed and we are wondering why officials are in hurry to destroy the forests when the country's concentration is on elections," said Chairman of FONE John Chumo.

Chumo said KFS had licensed timber dealers from outside the region to carry out the harvesting yet the mandatory Environment Impact Assessment (EAI) had not been carried out according to the Environment Management and Coordination Act, 1999 and the Constitution of Kenya, 2012, article 42,69 and 70.

FONE has said KFS had selectively applied law by carrying out EAI in areas where timber harvesting was to be done yet the process is to take place in Nandi without the assessment.

"We are concerned on the speed by which forests are to be cleared during the election period knowing well that a lot of our forests were destroyed when people took advantage of the 2007/8 polls," said Chumo's letter to KFS that was copied to the ministry of forestry and NEMA.

"The spirit of community participation in forest management must be respected as stipulated in the Forest Act 205," said Chumo. The group wants the process suspended until the due process is followed after the general elections.

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