A revelation by Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya confirms that the public fears over the adverse consequences of President William Ruto’s lifting of the logging ban were justified. Just about two weeks since the decision was announced, CS Tuya says, people are already encroaching on forests.
Unless checked, this could undermine the President’s afforestation plan. Last December, Dr Ruto earned accolades at home and beyond, when he launched a programme to plant 15 billion trees by 2032 to combat the effects of climate change. Its objective is to enable the growing of trees on 10 million hectares of degraded forests and rangelands to increase the country’s forest cover to more than 30 per cent. It’s currently at eight per cent.
He was pushing for the reduction of greenhouse emissions, reversing deforestation and restoring 5.1 million hectares of degraded landscapes. And in a symbolic gesture of his personal commitment, he planted 56 trees to mark his 56th birthday.
His about-turn to embrace logging, ending a six-year prohibition, has attracted mixed reactions. One group of experts has warned that this will undermine conservation efforts while another feels the lifting of the ban ban has been long overdue.
It is interesting that before the ink on the President’s decision had dried, CS Tuya reports that there have been forest invasions, with the burning of charcoal on the increase.
President Ruto’s view is that the reversal of the ban was long overdue and will create jobs and reinvigorate the sector. But some lobby groups have warned of catastrophic environmental consequences.
There is a need for clarity as there is confusion over what kind of forests should be harvested.