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September 23, 2018

Ban? What ban? Logging persists in Mau as few KFS enforcers deployed

A caterpiller loads trees into a lorry in the Mau on Monday / FILE
A caterpiller loads trees into a lorry in the Mau on Monday / FILE

Logging persists in the Mau Forest despite the 90-day ban on tree felling. In many places there are no officers to enforce the order to save the environment.

A check by the Star in the Southwestern bloc of Mau Forest in Narok showed little effort by authorities to end logging.

The Kenya Forest Service has failed to erect a post at Nyangores in Bomet, the main entry point into the section of the vast water tower.

Read: Logging in Embotut Forest has not stopped, locals say

Two weeks ago, Deputy President William Ruto issued orders stopping any logging inside all public forests But logging continues uninterrupted as there are no enforcement officers.

Motorbikes can be seen parked at edge of the forest, ready to ferry cedar posts for commercial purposes. Dozens of women also stream out of the forest with loads of firewood on their backs, a clear indication of the rampant activities taking place inside the water tower.

The Nyayo Tea Zones has also felled trees in more than 123 acres of land at the edge of the forest as it prepares to plant more tea on its cutline to stop further encroachment by human beings.

Nyangores had a forest station and quarters housing forest officers until late in 2015, when angry members of the public burnt down the houses in protest over the killing of a man by a forest ranger.

The man, according to security officers, was among the protestors who had stormed the station seeking the release of three men said to have been nabbed engaging in illegal logging inside the forest.

Read: 90-day ban on logging not PR stunt, says DP Ruto

Narok county ecosystem conservator James Mburu has said there are no structures to house the officers manning that section of the forest. 

He said they have not been able to put up new houses due to unavailability of funds. Mburu further said he is not aware of any illegal activity going on in that particular part of the forest.

“I’m not aware of such activities…we only allow people to go inside the forest to collect firewood, graze animals and maybe if they are looking for medicinal herbs, but not to cut trees. It is good because you have given me such information. We will act on it immediately,” he said.

Mburu also said the Nyayo Tea Zones is in the process of planting more tea at the edge of the forest.

“We are increasing the tea plantation where there was no tea so that there is a continuous bloc to protect the forest from encroachment,” he said.

Read: Tobiko talks tough as task force on forest protection formed

The politics of the Mau Forest sunk ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential ambitions in 2013.

The Rift Valley was Raila ’s gift to power and because of the region’s total support in 2007 Raila had his best shot at the presidency, but a dispute arose and he was forced to share power with PNU’s Mwai Kibaki. 

He was named Kenya’s second Prime Minister but without executive power after weeks of post-election violence.

But the region also became Raila’s Waterloo when Deputy President William Ruto fought the PM’s efforts to save the Mau Forest.

 

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