NEMA orders action over Kenyan forest

July 17, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 17 – The Kenya Forest Service has two weeks to mobilise resources and stop further destruction of the Mau complex in a directive issued by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

NEMA Director General Muusya Mwinzi said on Friday that this was because no action had been taken despite the authority giving advice to the government on how to conserve the forest.

"We have given it very serious thought as NEMA and we want to invoke section 12 of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act," Dr Mwinzi said.

"We have watched this situation painfully seeing every day the Mau forest disappearing.  The information we have so far is that we are having new settlers daily. We are now talking of about 30,000 people there," he added.

The NEMA boss said all resources were available to start the preservation process including security.

The directive came before a report by a 21-member Taskforce formed in July last year by Prime Minister Raila Odinga is discussed by the Cabinet.

The report which is yet to be made public was handed over the Premier at the beginning of this year.

The Taskforce was expected to formulate concrete actions to restore the forest.

 "Land is very critical and the Ministry of Lands has been involved in this process. The Taskforce also involved officers from the Ministry of Lands and we know all those who are there legally and we will be identifying land to compensate those who are genuinely there," Dr Mwinzi said.

He however said that compensation could also be monetary.

He also asked the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to identify the forest borders to avoid further encroachment.

"Some of these issues have been covered under the Taskforce and we are just saying that we are now acting so we are not contradicting the report," he said.

"The Taskforce was chaired by the Environment Secretary so when we talk we know what we are saying," he added.

According to the KFS, about 100,000 hectares out of the total 400,000 hectares of the Mau forest have been depleted through encroachment and illegal allocation.

Dr Mwinzi said although politics was central to the issue, there were technical solutions that could also help to unravel the politics surrounding it.

"I don’t think anybody will argue with the provisions of the forest act. If we want to safeguard it as a forest, we must all agree. I don’t mind even if we secure a third of Mau," he said.

He blamed the current water crisis in the country on mismanagement of the water towers.


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