Kenya: Loggers Back With Impunity in Mt Kenya Forests

Nyeri — Just months after the government banned logging to restore water levels in the, the vice has bounced back at Kabaru forest in Mt Kenya, mainly targeting the red cedar trees.

The defiance in Kabaru forest has seen a section of the 433 hectares of red cedar trees destroyed by loggers believed to be colluding with Community Forest Association (CFA) officials who are out to make a killing out of the illegal activity.

Nyeri Ecosystem Conservator David Mwanzia confirmed the ongoing logging in the forest, and assured that action will be taken.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has vowed action on anyone found cutting trees in the forests, as he spearheads the countrywide tree-planting exercise.

Inside Ndathi and Kabaru forest, loggers are acting with impunity and have left trails of destruction cutting the trees and abandoning some of them to rot.

The area residents who sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter ruled out involvement of commercial loggers to the vice, saying they could be making a kill from the logs instead of abandoning them to rot in the forest.

"This is a mystery that must be unraveled; these people are somehow sending a message by destroying these trees. Commercial people should use the logs for timber or poles," one resident said.

Farmers in the area said that the loggers have also devised a mechanism to collect some logs by transporting them using well built men to a residential home before loading them to lorries disguised as carrying loaves of bread or other commodities.

"No lorry is getting to the forest but they are moving the logs to private residences and later transporting them using a vehicle embodied with different stickers," another resident said.

Others accused CFA members of working in cahoots with the loggers to get deep into the forest to cut trees with impunity.

"The Kenya Forest Service officials are working in cahoots with the Community Forest Association members to allow people in need of logs to access the forest. They are aware of what is happening inside the forest," stated the resident.

However, Jackson Gikonyo, a CFA board member said Kabaru forest which has eight beats have few wardens managing 13, 492 hectares of the forest.

"We have one person manning each of the eight beats. It is not possible for them to access the entire area," he said.

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