Uncontrolled forest fires remain major threat to thousands of acres of indigenous and exotic forests in Taita-Taveta County, it has emerged.
Kenya Forest Services (KFS) Board, noted that Taita-Taveta County remained one of the regions in Kenya where natural forest under National and County government thrived with minimal logging activities.
However, the threat of fire destroying vast swathes of trees in forests was considered the single biggest threat facing trees in the region.
Speaking during a tour of Ngangao Forest in Wundanyi on Monday, Mr. John Gethi, a Board Member, said forests fires posed a threat to the conservation efforts in the region.
He noted that in the past, several acres of trees had been destroyed by fires triggered by farmers as they cleared their farms.
The Member said there was need to find a safety mechanism which could contain such activities should there be fire incidences.
We have seen areas where past fires have destroyed forests. There is need to invest in processes that can safeguard trees from such outcomes, he said.
The Board was on an inspection tour to assess the conditions of the 67 forest in Taita-Taveta County.
Dr. Christopher Gakahu, another Board Member, praised the residents of the County for embracing a forestation, noting that such initiatives had greatly eased the pressure on government forests.
He noted that most farmers in the region had planted exotic trees such Bougainvillea and Grevillea for their domestic timber use.
Dr. Makahu said that such activities drastically reduced tree poaching activities in forests hence there was minimal logging in the County and Government forests which he attributed to availability of trees in farms adjacent to the forests.
We are very impressed that farmers neighbouring the forests have adopted tree-planting philosophy. There is no logging as they can always get timber and wood from trees in their farms, he said.
He also noted that the exotic trees in Ngangao Forests had matured while the indigenous trees were rejuvenating alongside the exotic ones.
County Conservator, Mr. Christopher Maina, said the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) had over 1.5 million seedlings in their nurseries and called upon farmers in the region to buy them for planting. He said that the coming rains should not be allowed to go to waste.
He further praised the communities living around the forest, stating that they had embraced conservation philosophy which helped maintain tree cover in the water towers.
Taita-Taveta County has 14,000 hectares of forests. Out of that, 10,000 hectares are within the 44 forests currently managed by the County Government. The remaining 4,000 hectares are in 23 forests still managed by National Government under Kenya Forest Service.
Source: Kenya News Agency