Forest bodies censured for lifting logging ban

Illegal logging.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Environment and Land Court has ruled that the Kenya Forest Services (KFS) and Kenya Forest Board (KFB) violated the law when they lifted the extension of the moratorium on logging activities in public and community forests.

The November 2018 extension had been issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary to allow reassessment of the forest cover in the country.

Justice Edward Wabwoto termed the actions by KFS and KFB that effectively allowed for harvesting of forest materials illegal.

“A declaration be and is hereby made that KFS and KFB cannot overhaul, set aside, lift or replace the November 2018 extension of the moratorium on logging activities in public and community forests and allow logging and sale of forest materials without undertaking an environmental impact assessment as envisaged under the Forest Conservation and Management Act,2016,” said the judge.

Justice Wabwoto further issued a conservatory order directed at KFS and KFB staying further implementation of two notices for four tenders inviting eligible forest industry investors to submit bids for the sale of forest materials.

The conservatory order also stays implementation of a public notice on the status of inquiry into claims on forest material under KFS affected by the 2018 ban.

The invitation, issued on November 30, 2021 in the local dailies, called for public participation for persons affected by the moratorium.

The court found that the tenders could not be undertaken unless an environmental impact assessment (EAIA) had been concluded and approved in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act and the Regulations.

Mr Japheth Kithi had sued KFS and KFB accusing the agencies of violating the law leading to harvesting of forest materials without the EIA first being conducted.He filed the case on his own behalf and as the registered official of Active Environment Team.

In the petition, Mr Kithi said new projects must undertake an EIA and be reviewed by the National Environment Management Authority before they are approved.

“Failure to carry out EIA before the tenders were carried out renders them (tenders) illegal, null and void,” he said through his lawyer Kennedy Ogonji.