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November 20, 2018

Logging ban drains coffers, KFS seeks donations to save forests

Chief Conservator of Forests Monica Kalenda when she appeared before the Environment Committee to shed light on the reasons that led to the suspension of the Senior Government Officials at the forestry department. April 19, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
Chief Conservator of Forests Monica Kalenda when she appeared before the Environment Committee to shed light on the reasons that led to the suspension of the Senior Government Officials at the forestry department. April 19, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

Kenya’s forest conservation efforts are in danger of stalling. The logging ban imposed six months ago has left Kenya Forest Service coffers dry, the Star has learnt.

Last Thursday, KFS acting chief conservator Monica Kalenda admitted the service is “doing badly financially”.

She said sustaining operations has become difficult. Kalenda said it had collected Sh1.8 billion before the moratorium imposed on February 24, but the situation has worsened.

KFS is having difficulty transporting timber seized from illegal loggers. Kalenda blamed minimal and inadequate fines imposed by courts.

“The service is faced with challenges sustaining operations due to limited funding. A great strain has been placed on KFS personnel,” she said.

They protect 2.59 million hectares of gazetted forests and another 170 million hectares under county governments.

The KFS has appealed to well-wishers to help buy 360 million seedlings to restore forests. It has 160 million. National forest cover is 7.2 per cent.

The Constitution envisages at least 10 per cent by 2030. The agency is mandated to bridge the gap in 12 years.

Eighty per cent of KFS cash comes from plantations. Other sources areway leaves, charcoal licences, seedlings, grazing permits and donors.

Early this year, the European Union suspended Sh3.6 billion funding for water towers over what it called human rights abuses. The decision has hurt conservation efforts.

Read: Logging ban limited to public, community land - Tobiko

Kalenda said they are looking for alternative sources of funds so their operations don’t stall.

The National Assembly Environment committee, chaired by Kareke Mbiuki, has recommended a major increase in fnes for those plundering the environment.

This would generate more revenue and be a major deterrent to illegal loggers, sawmillers, charcoal burners and traders.

A task force found that KFS officers had ravaged natural resources for their personal gain.

The damning report on the state of forests and logging revealed how custodians destroyed swathes of trees countrywide and presided over illegal felling and sawmilling.

Surveillance has been increased by the Environment ministy.

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