What you need to know:
- The committee now wants a multiagency team formed immediately to undertake a holistic audit of the country’s forest cover.
- Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina is pushing for a law that will ban tree harvesting in forests.
The National Assembly Environment and Natural Resources Committee has welcomed the government’s decision to impose a three-month ban on logging, terming it a right step towards reclaiming the country’s lost forest cover.
“As a committee, we thank the government for taking our suggestion into consideration. We fully support the decision, and we will ensure that the directive is followed to the letter,” the committee’s chairman Kareke Mbiuki (Maara MP) said.
Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday suspended logging in all forests in the country for the next three months as water levels in major rivers continue to drop at alarming levels.
The committee now wants a multiagency team formed immediately to undertake a holistic audit of the country’s forest cover.
“The team should be in place urgently because if we don’t take this matter seriously, then even the Big Four agenda of the Jubilee government will not be achieved,” Mr Mbiuki said at Boma Hotel in Nairobi.
“We cannot talk about food security when water, which is a vital component of agriculture, is not available due to destruction of our forests,” he added.
The MPs said the should consist of members of the civil society, non-governmental organisations, a representative from the United Nations Environmental Program and the Kenya Forest Service.
“This team should prepare a report, which should not just gather dust in government offices, but be presented in Parliament and adopted, and the recommendations implemented,” Mr Mbiuki said.
The committee is proposing that the Kenya Water Towers be transferred from the Ministry of Environment to the Office of the President for effective management and coordination.
“When the same department was under the Office of the Prime Minister under the coalition government, it was well coordinated, and Mau Forest was saved. The same thing should be done today,” Mr Mbiuki said.
While announcing the logging ban, Mr Ruto said the move will give the government adequate time to find a solution to the drying rivers.
He said the situation had gotten to worrying levels, and told the Ministry of Environment to come up with a solution to the ongoing degradation of forests and other key water catchment areas in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina is pushing for a law that will ban tree harvesting in forests.
He said the move is spurred by the noticeable depletion of water levels in rivers.
While welcoming the logging ban, the senator said together with officials from the Ministry of Environment, they would come up with a law that will save forests.
“The Senate and Parliament will have to come up with a serious long-term framework that will ensure we get our forests back to what they were,” he said on Sunday.
Mr Maina said the law will ensure that destruction of forests is put to an end.
This comes following concern on the ongoing illegal logging in Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests, which are main water towers in the country.
“There must be something that can be done about careless cutting down of trees. The government must act on people who are rendering Kenya a desert,” he said.
Mr Maina said logging is a business controlled by cartels that are involved in charcoal business.