The government earned Sh.400, 000 from issuance of permit to transport trees from private forests in Laikipia County last month, County Ecosystem Conservator, Stephen Karega has said.
According to Karega, over 200 permits were issued to various people who sought to transport trees and logs from the county to other destination outside the county from February 1st to February 28th, with each permit going for Sh.2000.
He said about 10 Lorries seek permit from his office to transport trees logs from the county to other destination per day.
“Every month we issue over 200 movement permits to private forest owners seeking to transport logs to saw mills located in other counties,” said Karega in his Nyahururu town office, during an exclusive interview with KNA on Friday.
The conservator said that private tree owners go through a process before being allowed to cut their trees. “Farmers seeking to harvest trees in their farms are only required to fill a certificate of origin form through local chiefs and the sub-counties administrators. Before approval we must make sure that the harvesting is sustainable,” he said.
Karega said about 3,000 tons of trees were ferried from Laikipia to other destinations outside the County in February.
Although the government is depending on private forest owners to help the country achieve the internationally set 10 percent forest cover, it is feared that uncontrolled harvests in the private farms could negate the already achieved cover.
But Karega said owing to the good money the private forest owners are making through sales of their trees during the current ban on logging in government forests, many more people will venture into commercial tree growing in their farms hence increase the forest cover.
“The ban has given good exposure to private forest owners to make money through sale of their products. This could not have happened if the ban on logging in government forests was not imposed,” said the Ecosystem Conservator.
He faulted chiefs and some administration police officers who were arresting people who fell indigenous trees from own farms for domestic use, noting that cutting indigenous trees from one’s farm for domestic use was not criminal.
Karega said that plans were underway to enable people to transport indigenous trees from their farms after labeling. Currently it is illegal to move indigenous trees and people are only allowed to transport exotic ones.
“For now no movement permit is issued for indigenous trees in the country but plans are underway to start issuing them,” he said.
A moratorium on logging has been in place since February last year, following a public outcry over illegal logging that was blamed for the diminishing water levels in the country’s key rivers.
In November last year, the government extended by one year the ban on logging in public forests to facilitate the rehabilitation of the forests across the country.
This has forced millers from other parts of the country to flock Nyandarua and Laikipia counties in search of trees and logs from owners of private forests.
A spot check by KNA has revealed that timber dealers and buying companies have flocked most parts in the region which are known for tree growing among them Boiman, Gathanji, Shamata, Kariamu in Nyandarua County and Marmanet, Igwamiti and Ng’arua in Laikipia County.
By Jesse Mwitua