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Govt gets tough on protecting Kenya’s forests

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20 – Forestry and Wildlife Minister Dr. Noah Wekesa has reaffirmed the government’s position to evict individuals who have infringed on gazetted forests, asserting that the process will help pave way for the evictees’ rehabilitation.

Wekesa said people who invaded the forest lands illegally have been encouraged to leave the areas voluntarily, noting that the state would look for alternative land to settle them.

He, however, denounced the politicization of the evictions by a section of leaders, whom he noted were only keen on protecting their votes, especially as the next general elections quickly approach.

“Politics is affecting this process because when we try to remove those residing in the forests without a permit, we politicians begin to create a fuss. You know the issue surrounding the Mau. We told people to leave and they left on their own, while politicians told them not to leave,” he said.

The Marmanet and Mau forests have been designated for the third phase of eviction.

Wekesa called on leaders from the relevant regions to support the initiative as a concerted effort to protect the environment, and encouraged residents to plant more trees to address the issue of climate change.

“If we don’t plant trees in our water towers we will not have Kenya in a hundred years time. We have what we call climate change, which has come because factories release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and negatively affected the trees,” he stressed.

The Minister was speaking at Muthengera village in Nyahururu district during the burial ceremony of former Chief Conservator of Forests, the late Onesimus Mburu, on Wednesday.

He lauded the deceased for his commitment as a civil servant, who was determined to protect forests during his time.

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Addressing the mourners, area Member of Parliament Nderitu Mureithi urged Kenyans to commit their energies to serving the country diligently and selflessly to help it achieve the set development goals.

Mureithi, who is also the Assistant Minister for Industrialisation, supported the on-going terror war on Al-Shabaab militia group from Somalia, saying it was the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens from foreign invasion.

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