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January 23, 2019

Kenya forest cover increased to 4.22million hectares in 2017, KNBS reports

A section of Kapchemutwa forest after commercial logging in February 29, 2018. /FILE
A section of Kapchemutwa forest after commercial logging in February 29, 2018. /FILE

Kenya's forest cover has increased to 4.22 million hectares in the wake of government's reiteration that the ban on logging will continue after the 90-day ban.

The Economic Survey 2018 released on Wednesday revealed that the total forest area consisting of natural and plantation forests increased marginally from the 4.18 million hectares reported in 2016.

The government imposed a three-month logging ban in the country following widespread outcry over the wanton destruction of trees leading to loss of forest cover.

This was in the wake of concerns over prolonged drought among other effects of climate change.

According to the survey, the area under natural forests increased from 399,400 hectares in 2016 to 4.03 million thousand hectares in 2017.

This has been attributed to an increase in area under indigenous mixed trees.

Read: Lift logging ban, ex-governor Timamy says

"The share of forest cover increased to 7.29 per cent in 2017 from 7.22 per cent in 2016," the survey states.

"The total area of Government forest plantations increased from 131.4 thousand hectares in 2016 to 135.1 thousand hectares in 2017, an increase of 2.8 per cent."

Area planted with trees grew by 6.8 per cent from 10.3 million hectares in 2016 to 11.0 million hectares in 2017, the study adds.

With the ban still on, the area clear-felled decreased from 6.8million hectares in 2016 to 5.2 million hectares in 2017.

During the same period, tree planting failures and damages from forest fire resulted to loss of 2,100 hectares of forest stocks.

This mainly resulted from the widespread drought experienced in the country during the year.

Read: Blanket logging ban to cost businessman Sh650m loss

Total sales of timber decreased from 1.03 million true cubic meters in 2016 to 881,000 true cubic meters in 2017.

"The sales of softwood timber declined by 17.4 per cent from 966,000 cubic meters in 2016 to 798,000 cubic meters in 2017, reflecting the impact of control measures put in place to conserve the existing forests," the report states in part.

Notable decline was also recorded on sale of fuel wood which reduced from 147,000 stacked cubic meters in 2016 to 53,000 stacked cubic meters in 2017.

However, sales of hardwood timber grew by 17.6 per cent to 83,000 true cubic meters in 2017 from 70,000 true cubic meters in 2016.

Sales of power poles recorded an increase of 48.7 per cent during the review period.

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