Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya has reiterated that the lifting of a logging moratorium announced recently by the Government only applies to commercial plantations and not indigenous forests as misconstrued by a section of Kenyans.
She said the lifting of the ban imposed by the Government in 2018 following a spike in illegal logging was meant to allow for the harvesting of mature plantations including those owned by the Government.
“We have had a ban on logging existing in the country since 2018. At that time, it was a response to rampant illegal activities and high degradation of our ecosystems.
“When you hear about the lifting of the ban on logging, it only applies to the commercial plantations which have not been touched since 2018 due to the moratorium,” CS Tuya reiterated.
The CS spoke on Thursday in North Horr town, Marsabit County where he commissioned Tiniqo and Horri Gudha wetlands, restored by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) as part of the 15 billion national tree growing and ecosystem restoration programme.
CS Tuya revealed that Kenya had a total of 150,000 hectares of commercial forests across the country, adding that a maximum of 5,000 hectares will be harvested annually to allow for replanting and regeneration of logged acreage.
“The 150,000 hectares are in parts of our gazetted forests, only there will we allow for harvesting of commercial, exotic trees but not in indigenous forests,” the CS said.
She said the lifting of the ban would allow private forest owners who had been restricted by the 2018 moratorium to harvest their mature trees.
“The logging ban also came with restrictions upon private forests where farmers who have forests within their farms could not log. With the lifting of the ban, they will be allowed to log in a regulated manner,” the CS said.
To address illegal logging that led to the 2018 ban, CS Tuya said her Ministry was strengthening Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to effectively undertake its enforcement mandate by among other interventions, the recent recruitment of additional rangers.
Additionally, the Cabinet Secretary, who was accompanied by Marsabit County MP Naomi Waqo, said she had ordered KFS to mount a ruthless countrywide crackdown on illegal logging starting in the Mau forest complex.
CS Tuya also spoke about the ongoing recruitment of youth to support the 15 billion national tree-growing programme dubbed ‘green army’ saying the Government will recruit 4,000 youth in the first cohort.
“We have advertised for the first lot of 4,000 youth and the advert is running up to 22nd of July. That’s just the first cohort. We intend to do up to 100,000 young people across the country to help us restore back extension services we need in forest conservation and ecosystem restoration,” she said.
On wetlands restoration, CS Tuya said the programme fits into her Ministry’s 15 billion national tree-growing programme and Kenya’s broad climate action agenda spearheaded by President William Ruto who is the current Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).
“The President is leading from the front, that’s why we have the first ever Africa Climate Summit happening in September in Nairobi,” the CS said.
At the same time, CS Tuya said the ongoing reform of the climate change law to streamline carbon markets will be complete by September this year.
“For a very long time, we’ve had carbon credit projects happening in Kenya without the Government knowing their extent or collecting revenues.
“For communities, revenue-sharing arrangements have been opaque. It is not known how much goes to the investor and how much goes to communities,” CS Tuya said.
Later, the CS addressed a public baraza in North Horr town where he rallied area residents to take up tree growing as an intervention to mitigate against climate change and the expanding Chalbi Desert.
“If we conserve our environment we will be able to end drought. We will get water. We will get food,” the CS rallied North Horr residents as he thanked NEMA for restoring Tiniqo and Horri Gudha wetlands.
Other speakers at the public baraza were NEMA Director General Mamo Mamo, Narok County MP Naomi Waqo and North Horr Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Sylvester Mwangulu.
Hon Waqo reiterated the Cabinet Secretary’s call for restoration of wetlands in the expansive County including Aite wetland which she said was the lifeline of Saku sub-county.
The County MP promised to lead a massive tree growing campaign in North Horr soon saying the recent drought was “an eye opener”.
“The journey we have started today is the journey to transform the desert. Conservation of the environment is the work of wananchi. If we take care of the environment, it will take care of us.
“Please take good care of the trees we plant. I will come here to bring development during which we will plant trees,” Hon Waqo assured.