By Collins Omulo, Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellow, in Daily Nation
Published 11 March 2018
A task force set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has called on members of the public to submit their memoranda and petitions by Friday on matters that affect forests.
The 10-member task force will begin receiving the submissions on Monday.
The team was constituted by Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko in a gazette notice dated February 26 to inquire into forest resources management and logging.
“In the performance of its mandate, the task force shall conduct public hearings and coordinate an all-inclusive stakeholder consultation process at all levels.
“In this respect, the task force invites members of the public to make representation, memoranda and petitions by Friday, March 15, 2018,” reads the notice in part.
It was signed by joint secretaries Mr Stephen King’uyu and Ms Irene Kamunge and published in local dailies on Sunday.
The task force’s key mandate is to determine the scale of illegal logging, destruction, degradation and encroachment of public and community forests, water towers and other catchment areas, as well as the associated impacts.
It is chaired by Green Belt Movement Chairperson Marion Wakanyi and Environment Institute of Kenya Vice Chairperson Linda Munyao.
They are assisted by Kenya Association of Manufacturers boss Ms Phyllis Wakiaga and Mr Isaac Kalua of the Kenya Water Towers Agency.
Other members are prominent corporate lawyer and KCB Bank Director Adil Khawaja; Duncan Kimani, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Environment, Water and Natural Resources Sector; Cotu official Ernest Nadome; and lawyers Faith Waigwa and Gideon Kilakoi.
The government issued a directive to ban logging for three months following an uproar over massive destruction of most water catchment areas and forests.
The task force has been given the go-ahead to review procedures, qualification and conditions for licensing of saw millers in the country.
They will also review and determine the effectiveness of the monitoring and verification procedures to ensure compliance with the licence conditions.
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers have been accused of being complicit with the loggers in the country, with Mr Tobiko saying that the rampant destruction of water towers, riparian areas and forests have been tolerated by some forestry officers who conspire with saw millers.
He warned that any officer found guilty of the offence would be fired immediately and taken to court.
Several were sent packing on Sunday, including some in Kibiko, Oloolua and Ngong.
The task force is set to determine the institutional and technical capacity of the forest agency and other agencies involved in the management of forests to enforce compliance with laws and regulations.
It will also review and determine the adequacy and effectiveness of felling plans and associated programmes like planting and replanting.
It will also review the chain-of-custody system established by KFS through which forest products from public, community and private forests are distributed, tracked and monitored from their origin in the forest to their end use.
Other areas of concern for the team will be the audit of revenue generation from forests against the investment and operational costs, and review of laws and regulations – such as the Forest Act No. 34 of 2016 – governing forests in the country with a view to enhance penalties for their breach.
One such law, concerning charcoal burning and trade, has come into sharp focus after Kitui became the first county to ban the trade.
The team is tasked with looking into the laws and regulations governing the trade with a view to making recommendations on the need, or otherwise, to ban charcoal burning, trade and use.
CS Tobiko said the team has 14 days to hand over its report, which is expected to have recommendations on short-term, medium-term, and long-term actions to ensure sustainable management, restoration and protection of forests and water catchment areas.
- Read the original story here. This story is reproduced here as part of the Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowships, a Space for Giants programme to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in the four countries where we work.