NAIROBI, July 30 – The Government has dispatched security officers to the Mau forest to stop any further encroachment on the crucial catchment area.,
The team is drawn from the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, administration police and rangers from the Narok county council.
Forest Service Director David Mbugua told Capital News that the deployment follows an influx of people invading the forest in the last three weeks, since the government announced a plan to relocate thousands of families from the forest.
“Some are hoping to benefit from the proposed resettlement programme,” he quipped.
Mbugua, who is part of a 21-member taskforce formed to devise concrete measures on the restoration of the forest by December, said the Maasai Mau area is the most affected by encroachment, followed by South West Mau.
He said 40 forest guards would be stationed at Ndoinet in South West Mau, a contingent of administration police would man the South, while KWS personnel would be based in the Eastern part of Mau. Narok county council rangers, added Mbugua, had been deployed to the southern part of the forest, in the Enkareta area.
The forest boss said that nobody would be evicted from the area at the moment, clarifying that the taskforce would recommend appropriate action on an individual basis.
“If, for instance, some of those areas are contested, then a decision would have to be made on people moving out. However, if a mistake was done, the taskforce must look for alternatives or options,” he said.
“I think at the moment, it’s too soon to talk about leasing and concessioning. I think we can only talk about joint management with communities and other stake holders,” Mbugua added.
He suggested that areas like Mau which are strictly conservation areas should be zoned out as conservation areas to be under indigenous forest cover only.
The Director noted that 100,000 hectares out of the total 400,000 hectares of the Mau forest were already depleted through encroachment and illegal allocation.
He said the forest boundaries would be secured first before the local communities were engaged in any conservation measures.
“In other words when we secure the boundaries, then we can sit down with the communities and develop some rules of engagement. And we can secure it through a number of means including the option of fencing where we have, after say every five kilometres, a gate where then we can deploy joint units to control activities within the forest.”
“But it is very difficult at the moment to do that because some of these communities are right deep inside the forest,” he observed.