Illegal logging in government forests raise concern

Poorly implemented shamba system in government forests have been cited as the major cause of rising cases of illegal logging and charcoal burning.

The National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) now wants the system also known as Plantation Establishment Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS) banned as it was poorly implemented by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

The scheme which has been practiced in parts of the country for years brings farmers on board to cultivate land bordering forests while at the same time planting and taking care of the trees.

The NECC committee secretary Dr. John Chumo said that there was an outcry countrywide that the scheme was counter-productive noting that although the strategy was good in ensuring food security through increased food production, the strategy was poorly implemented.

The committee was on a fact finding mission at various water towers including Aberdare, Mt Elgon, Kakamega forest and the Mau complex and wetlands where the scheme is implemented.

Dr. Chumo regretted that cases of illegal logging and charcoal burning were on the rise in forests where the shamba system was implemented, raising concern among forests stakeholders on the validity of the scheme.

The official at the same time hailed the government over the decision to ban use of plastic papers noting that most of the wetlands were choking with plastic papers and the ban was a big relief to the environmentalists.

It is now evident that the plastic papers had negative effects in our water towers and wetlands and we urge all Kenyans to support and comply with the ban, he said.

The committee legal officer Carolyne Khasoa called for the survey and marking of all wetlands and water towers saying lack of land ownership documents had led to an increase in cases of land grabbing targeting the wetlands and riparian land.

She said the committee had launched a campaign where it will work with other government agencies to mark and install beacons around all wetlands in the country to combat land grabbing and illegal allocations of wetlands.

Khasoa further said that the recent increase in human activities around riparian land was due to lack of legal documents adding that there was need for consulted efforts from all stakeholders to save the Kenyan wetands and water towers.

Source: Kenya News Agency