, NAIROBI, Kenya – A debate centering on Mau Forest Complex has been building for the last year or so reaching a crescendo in the last two weeks. Whereas public debate on any subject is a constitutional right guaranteed in our statutes, the Mau debate has been lopsided, out of context and largely politically motivated pitting ministers of Cabinet against each other despite their full knowledge that the matter is before Cabinet.
Whereas forests must be seen within a cross-sectoral framework because of linkages, the laws of our land and the administrative structures that drive their implementation have identified the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife as the branch of Executive that has mandate over this important sector in our country to curb the forest destruction in Mau.
As the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, it therefore saddens me to see the frequency of which contradictory statements are made in the public media. The statements, usually attributed to various leaders especially my political colleagues cover a range of subjects proposed management actions the Government should take to reverse the degradation of our forest resources and in particular the need to restore, protect and conserve the Mau Forest Complex by removing the settlers from the forest.
Numerous interventions have been proposed by experts and non-experts with a view to stemming destruction, reclaiming encroached land, compensating current occupants, resettlement of genuine squatters, rehabilitating and conserving the Mau Forests Complex. Whereas saving Mau will require all the help that we can get, I wish to advice the public that my Ministry will co-ordinate all such efforts as mandated by law and informed by the on-going forestry sector reforms.
Let me therefore state here that as provided for under the Forest Act 2005 Chapter III , Section 22 of the Laws of Kenya, as the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, I am the mandated person empowered to declare any un alienated Government Land or Land purchased or otherwise acquired by the Government to be a State forest. Under the same Act, Chapter II, Section 6, I also appoints the Board of Management of Kenya Forest Service. This Board manages the service and also provides recommendations to me on alterations of forest boundaries.
All of us know that Mau Forest Complex is a state forest that is now heavily degraded by settlers. Therefore, it’s restoration, protection and conservation is my direct mandate and I will act to deliver a well conserved Mau Forest Complex to Kenyans.
As a Minister for Forestry and wildlife, I will use this mandate given to me under the law wisely, timely and decisively. Let no one be cheated that justice will not be done as concerns the Government move to restore the ecological integrity of Mau Forest Complex. In my pursuit to fulfill my mandate, I will uphold the laws of the land and ensure that justice is not only done but seen to be done.
The on-going public misinformation about the intended Government action on the Mau Forest Complex should now stop. We cannot have everybody talking about the Mau Forest Complex. Kenyans only need to focus their attention to the recent policy statements made by his Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya while touring Nyanza Province on the Government priority actions to restore, protect and conserve the Mau Forest Complex. The statement made was very clear and requires no further elaboration from any other leaders.
Again let me state that nobody should bring further confusion on this matter. The details of how to implement this policy rests with my Ministry. I therefore now call upon all Kenyan’s to stop any public debate on the process to be used to remove settlers from the Mau Forest Complex. This is a sensitive socio-economic issue for the country and the region which must be handled with care.
In the meantime, let me inform you that away from the glare of media coverage, my ministry together with the two Corporate Services within this Ministry that is Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) are working frantically and closely with other public agencies, private sectors and eminent individuals to finalise the operational plan of action to restore, protect and conserve the Mau Forest Complex.
When all requirements will be ready and in place my Ministry will ensure the restoration, protection and conservation of the Mau Forest Complex. At that juncture, I will not only inform all Kenyans appropriately but will also call upon them to play active role in the process of restoration of the Mau Forest complex.