President William Ruto’s reason for his recent lifting of a six-year ban on logging was valid—that mature trees should not rot in forests while local industries lacked timber.
Some trees are very durable and rot-resistant. An example is cypress, because of its cypressene, which acts as a natural preservative. After some decades and old growth, however, it becomes extremely susceptible to decay, insect pests and disease attack. Others, like blue gum, take up to 15 years to be ready for timber and 5-12 for poles.
The President had, last December, launched a campaign to plant trees in a bid to raise the country’s tree cover to 30 per cent by 2032. The national tree growing and restoration campaign targets to plant 15 billion trees. The reversal of the ban could, nonetheless, see an unprecedented invasion of forests by loggers and charcoal burners, as indicated by the worries expressed by Environment CS Susan Nakhumicha.
Obviously, it is extraordinarily hard to get accurate information about illegal forest activities. Defining and implementing sustainable forest management is one of the most critical challenges many countries globally face as there is a delicate balance between harvesting and preservation of trees.
Forest harvesting can generate many socioeconomic benefits but poor practices would lead to serious environmental degradation and adverse impacts on global climate as is being witnessed in the form of lengthy droughts, floods, heat waves and other conditions.
Harvesting of immature trees
Kenya’s forest cover, as per the “National Forest Resources Assessment Report 2021”, stands at 8.83 per cent of the land mass against the UN-recommended minimum of 10 per cent. Increasing demand for wood products is one fundamental reason for the country’s frustration of its efforts to reach this goal.
Therefore, tough measures must be put in place to tame illegal or uncontrolled logging, especially the harvesting of immature trees, as it will erode the gains from climate change mitigation.
Nevertheless, we should keep our eyes on the ball on matters climate change. Every citizen must plant as many trees as possible outside the officially gazetted forests. MPs and governors should mobilise resources and their constituents to plant trees in their homes and nearby institutions. The people, as individuals, families, groups, cooperatives, villages or communities, must plant trees as part of their long-term investment.
Munia Khan said, “Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish.” Bryce Nelson noted that “people who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world that will not sustain people”!
Dr Kapkiai, PhD, is a lecturer in the school of Education and Human Resource development at Kisii University. [email protected].