Ban on grazing in public forests overdue

The ban on grazing in public forests, which has just been announced, is the latest government indication of its commitment to environmental conservation. This is a good idea that is long overdue.

Allowing unfettered access to the forests for grazing poses a grave risk of abuse and overexploitation, undermining the 30 per cent tree cover target. It also hampers the regeneration of the vegetation.

Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Soipan Tuya says only sustainable management programmes will be sanctioned.

If strictly enforced, this should complement the efforts to plant more trees and enable the country to exceed the minimum 10 per cent forest cover set by the 2010 Constitution.

President William Ruto is leading an ambitious campaign, whose target is to plant 10 billion trees in the next 10 years. It is the most effective means to fight the adverse consequences of climate changes.

By 2021, the country’s forest cover stood at a miserly 8.8 per cent, necessitating a firm intervention to stem the mess.

The forest officials must co-ordinate efforts with the local administration to ensure that rules and regulations on grazing and grass harvesting are strictly implemented. This is vital step to prevent the indiscriminate tree felling and illegal logging and enhance forest cover.

Besides destroying forests, illegal grazing can also spread livestock diseases and undermine productivity. Forests are important for human health, as they help to purify water and air, keeping infectious diseases at bay. They also provide habitats for numerous species, protect and help to restore fragile ecosystems, safeguarding endangered species.

Outlawing grazing in the public forests, CS Tuya says will pave the way for demarcation to prevent encroachment. Tree planting is a powerful sustainable solution to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and reduce environmental degradation. All must ensure that the trees planted grow to maturity.