, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 18 – A section of local saw millers and stakeholders in the local forest products trade sector have stepped up efforts to seek the lifting of the prevailing moratorium on logging in public and community forests.
As part of the efforts, the forest trade stakeholders have petitioned Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko to grant them a meeting to discuss partnership avenues including conservation programmes on a public-private partnership basis.
The petition comes hot on the heels of recent developments in the sector including a directive by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to commence a probe against Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officials and a section of local Saw millers. The probe directive by the ODPP follows an earlier petition seeking criminal investigations into a Sh1.2 billion possible collusion or conspiracy to defraud between KFS officials and unscrupulous Saw millers.
Operating under the umbrella of the Forest Stakeholders Association-Kenya (FSA-K) which is currently in formation, the players led by the Interim Chairperson Mr. Moses Ochieng have also disassociated themselves from the Timber Manufacturers Association (TMA).
The Timber Manufacturers Association, they say, has been called into disrepute and has failed to spearhead forest conservation efforts which the Forest Stakeholders Association-Kenya will seek to champion.
In a letter dated 17th December and addressed to Cabinet Secretary Tobiko and titled: “Proposed Partnership Between Forest Stakeholders Association-Kenya and the Government of the Republic of Kenya”, Ochieng says the new association comprises of 98 saw millers licensed by the Kenya Forest Service, operating in different parts of the country.
“As FSA-K, we do not feel adequately represented by the current Timber Manufacturers Association which reputation has been called into disrepute and who have had no demonstrable conservation agenda,” Ochieng said adding that, “We feel that our model to sustainably work, we would need to include our parent ministry in consultations.”
In the letter to the cabinet secretary, Ochieng confirms that the new association will seek to act as a strong private sector partner to the government, complete with a robust Code of Practice. The association he added will exercise self-regulation and seek to discipline errant members who fail to comply with the code of practice.
Said Ochieng: “It is our firm belief that through Forest Stakeholders Association-Kenya, we will be able to play our role in conservation by signing an MoU with the Government to positively contribute to key conservation activities. We will also seek to mainstream the donation of tree seedlings to KFS by respective saw millers in their areas of operation.”