Kenya has lost Sh14 billion revenue and 44,000 jobs in the last three years following the ban on logging in community and public forests, latest report shows.
A study by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) indicates that the ban has also resulted in the economic collapse of forest dependent centres and communities.
The Kenya Forest Service lost Sh4 billion revenue while Sh10 billion was lost “due to machinery lying idle”.
“The harvesting ban led to economic collapse of forest dependent centres and communities mostly around Maji Mazuri, Mau Summit, Elburgon, Molo, Makutano, Kaptagat and Bukar,” said Kefri director Dr Joshua Cheboiwo.
The ban has also resulted in the increase of importation of timber from 3,231.38 cubic metres to 29, 355.39 cubic metres, leading to a loss of foreign exchange of Sh1.04 billion.
“The logging ban had serious socio-economic impacts to various players on the forestry sector. The price of timber rose by 22.7 per cent, the cost of fuel wood increased by 25.5 per cent, charcoal by 40 per cent, treated poles by 15.3 per cent,” said Dr Cheboiwo.
Fuel wood expenditure
The increase in prices culminated in additional fuel wood expenditure of Sh1.3 billion by the Kenya Tea Development Authority factories, Sh3 billion by schools, Sh46 million by tobacco firms and Sh19.7 billion by charcoal consumers.
He called for elaborate governance framework to promote sustainable management of the forest resource and enhance attainment of the targeted 10 per cent cover.
“The frequent bans undermine the investor confidence in attainment of wood-based manufacturing, employment creation and attainment of 10 per cent tree cover aspirations through commercial plantations. This part of the Big Four agenda,” added Dr Cheboiwo.
The construction and building industry consumes over eight million cubic meters of timber annually, saving the country over Sh24 billion in terms of imported products.
The timber industry is among major contributors of national revenue with the North Rift collecting Sh663 million as royalties from forest products in the 2019/2020 financial year.
But the sub-sector is faced with a blink future due to an acute shortage of logs, pushing high the cost of timber, which has impacted negatively to the building and construction industry.
“I had to move to different transport businesses after most of my clients, who operate saw millers, shut down their operations and diversified to other trades,” said Mr David Kosgei, truck operator in Eldoret.
The government partially lifted the ban on logging in November last year to allow harvesting and disposal of mature forest plantation not exceeding 5,000 hectares.
“The harvesting and disposal of the forest plantation shall be over-sighted by a multi-agency team and done in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable and ensure value for money,” said Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.
Still, the cost of charcoal increased from Sh1,200 to 1,500 per bag in most parts of the region due to shortage of logs.
“Increased charcoal prices have ensured better returns to black wattle woodlot owners. The price increased from Sh50,000 to Sh150,000 per hectare of well-stocked woodlots,” said Mr Wilson Chepkwony, a forestry expert.
The cost of timber has increased from Sh20,000 to over Sh30,000 per tonne, benefitting farmers with private forests.
“The profitability of forestry is dictated by various factors, including demand and supply and changing market conditions for alternative crops. Farmers need to exercise proper management practices in order to earn better profits,” said Mr Jackson Chepkwony, a forester in Uasin Gishu County.
KFS has reached out to community associations, saw millers and farmers to invest in commercial forests to increase the country’s cover to 10 per cent.