Ruto lifts ban on logging

Ruto in Molo

President William Ruto addresses congregants at St Mary's Catholic Church in Molo, Nakuru County during a church service on July 02, 2023. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has announced the government's decision to lift the ban on logging after six years.

The decision to lift the moratorium on logging, he said, was prompted by the need to open up the economies of areas that depend on forest products.

President Ruto, who was speaking at St Mary's Catholic Church in Molo, Nakuru County, where he was attending a church service, said the Kenya Kwanza government has put in place plans to ensure that only mature trees are harvested while more are planted.

The President also noted that the Kenya Kwanza government has imposed a tax on all imported timber products in its budget to encourage locally made products.

"This is why we have decided to open up the forest and harvest timber so that we can create jobs for our youth and open up business while we continue with our plan to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years," said President Ruto.

The multi-billion dollar industry has been one of Kenya's best employers over the past 10 years, especially for uneducated youth in urban areas.

Several areas in the South Rift, including Elburgon, Molo and Total areas in Nakuru and Maji Mazuri in Eldama Gorge, depended on the timber industry.

The youth worked as loaders, tree cutters (power saw operators), transporters and millers.

Others did other manual work, such as clearing the milling areas.

Over the past six years, the impact of the logging ban has been felt particularly in the towns, which initially enjoyed a vibrant economy based on the lucrative timber industry.

From the 1990s, the towns of Elburgon and Molo enjoyed a boom in the timber trade.

The towns were strongholds of the timber business in the South Rift region.

A moratorium on logging has been in place since February 2018, following a public outcry over illegal logging, which has been blamed for declining water levels in the country's main rivers.

A recent study by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) found that Kenya Forestry Services has lost Sh4 billion in revenue and 44,000 jobs over the past six years following the ban on logging in public and community forests.

The study further revealed that the ban has also contributed to the economic collapse of forest-dependent centres and communities.