By Treezer Michelle Atieno
The government is on track to lift the ban on logging public and community forests in the country. This move could have catastrophic consequences for our environment.
On 16th April 2023, Kenya’s Forestry Permanent Secretary Kimotho Kimani announced that the ban on logging in forests, imposed six years ago, will be lifted in July 2023.
Kimani said the move will allow licensed sawmillers to resume harvesting mature trees from both public and private forests.
According to the PS, the government banned logging in Kenya six years ago to protect existing forests and achieve 10% forest cover.
While lifting this ban will be a major relief to sawmillers and timber merchants in the country, it is likely to affect forest conservation efforts in Kenya or even worsen the effects of climate change in the country.
This move is also likely to open the floodgates to commercial and illegal logging solely driven by profit. If this happens, Kenyan forests will be at the mercy of sawmillers who have no regard for the consequences.
Our forests play a crucial role in purifying the air we breathe, preserving water catchment areas, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In Kenya, forests are home to rare and endangered species, and millions of local people depend on these forests for their livelihoods, relying on them for food and medicine.
Since the Kenyan government imposed the ban on logging six years ago, significant progress has been made in forest protection and combating the climate crisis. Kenya even finally hit and exceeded its 10% target forest cover.
Environmental experts have suggested that the government should instead explore sustainable alternatives to address the country’s wood and timber needs. One of the suggested alternatives is the planting of fast-growing species of bamboo.
Bamboo can serve as an eco-friendly and renewable alternative to traditional wood sources, reducing the pressure on natural forests while meeting Kenya’s wood demands.
According to the experts, the government should also consider mixed forest plantations. Establishing these mixed forests will increase forest cover and generate sustainable revenue through job creation.