- Conservationists say Nkunga Forest is part of the government gazetted forests of Lower Imenti and therefore serves as a corridor for wildlife between North-Imenti and Buuri subcounties in Meru
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the destruction of Nkunga Forest in Meru county, saying residents are clearing the indigenous forest to create farmlands.
Led by Upper Imenti Forest/Rural Conservation & Management Organisation chairman Geoffrey Githinji Ruku, they criticised the Community Forest Association for allowing residents to clear the forest for cultivation.
Ruku said the CFA green-lighted residents to access the forest and use the land for farming for seven years. He said the destruction has led to the disruption of the ecosystem and interruption of food supply to elephants inhabiting Nkunga Forest.
The animals have now been forced to move out of the forest in search of sustenance in the nearby homes and farms, he said.
However, some of the beneficiaries of the Shamba System claim the ongoing clearing of the forest will pave the way for the planting of new trees as was directed by the CFA.
“We are clearing these trees for now but are going to plant new ones as per the agreement we had with CFA. They leased these parcels of land to use for a period of seven years after which we shall vacate after the forest cover has been restored,” Benta Nyawira said.
She is one of the beneficiaries.
CFA says the clearing is meant to give residents a chance to utilise the land for farming for a period of seven years.
During that time, any beneficiary will be required to plant trees on the cleared land while at the same time grow crops and later on vacate the land after full forest restoration has been achieved.
But Ruku faulted the arrangement, arguing that Nkunga Forest is part of the government gazetted forests of Lower Imenti and therefore serves as a corridor for wildlife between North-Imenti and Buuri in Meru.
"Any kind of human activity in the area disrupts the wildlife way of life," he said.
Ruku called on Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to intervene and ensure the forest and properties are saved from destruction.
He also asked Parliament to enact a law banning cultivation and logging in the forest.
Edited by P.O