Recurrent fire incidents destroy Sh3 million forest cover in Makueni

Frequent fires that have hit several forests in Makueni County in the recent past have destroyed over 25 acres of forest cover leading to loss of over Sh3 million.

Katende, Mutulani and Kilala forests have been affected by recurrent fires, which consumed several hectares of vegetation, leading to massive destruction of indigenous forest cover and wildlife.

The county has lost precious eucalyptus, pine and indigenous trees in a span of three weeks beginning September 23. And, still the danger was extremely high due to the prevailing long dry spell in the area, said the Makueni County Ecosystem Conservator Joseph Wakiaga.

However, Wakiaga said the last incident of fire outbreak was contained last Saturday, noting that they have spent Sh250, 000 in mobilizing community and forest guards to put out the fires.

He is now appealing to farmers living next to forests to stop burning of vegetation while preparing their farms, while advising them to seek guidance from foresters if it was necessary to do so.

The conservator also challenged residents to report any fire occurrences immediately to avoid further loss of forest cover, especially during this period of dry spell in the county.

Avoid cutting and burning of plants in your farms. Report any cases of fire to the chief or nearby forester so that we stop destruction of our indigenous trees, he said, during an interview with KNA in Wote town Monday.

On his part, the County Forester James Omambia blamed the frequent fires on arsonists, charcoal burners, and honey harvesters operating in the forests.

He also blamed smokers for careless dropping of cigarette butts and farmers who burn their farms before planting of crops.

Omambia said there was need to sensitize the people on conservation of forests and also called for the revival of Community Forest Associations (CFA) that he said were dormant.

We need to create awareness among the community and also revive CFAs so that they can help in conserving forests from a point of information, added the forester.

Source: Kenya News Agency