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Government’s tough warning to persons engaging in illegal forest activities

Environment, Climate Change and Forestry CS Soipan Tuya has issued a stern warning to persons found engaging in illegal forest activities that the government will not relent in ensuring they face the full force of the law.

Speaking during the 46th Kenya Forestry College graduation ceremony in Londiani, Kericho County, Tuya expressed concern that illegal logging was still on the rise in forests within Kericho, Narok, Nakuru, and Baringo Counties.

The CS revealed that during the recent National Tree Growing holiday, several people were arrested in forests within Kericho County, while engaging in illegal logging and charcoal burning and condemned the act saying the government will continue weeding out destroyers of forests.

“I am the biggest proponent of participatory forest management, but we have a big problem, since people are taking advantage of the opportunity to get into the forests to destroy forests instead of conserving them,” she said.

Tuya urged Kenyans to inculcate the culture of environmental conservation protection and embrace a good attitude towards growing and nurturing trees, stressing that the government is committed to ensuring that 30 percent of the targeted 15 billion trees will be fruit trees.

“We are currently rolling out the National Landscape and Ecosystems Restoration Program towards growing the 15 billion trees. The Program seeks to restore 10.6 million hectares of degraded ecosystems and landscapes and achieve and maintain 30 percent of tree cover by 2032, the program will support livelihoods, combat climate change and ensure protection of biodiversity,” she said.

The CS thanked Kenyans for actively participating in the recent national tree-growing exercise, saying the country surpassed the target, which was 150 million trees and encouraged Kenyans to harness the power of the Jaza Miti application to support the 15 billion tree-growing initiative.

Environment, Climate Change and Forestry CS Soipan Tuya growing a tree at the Kenya Forestry College in Londiani Kericho County.

At the same time, Tuya disclosed that her Ministry is in the process of developing a forest policy and reviewing the current legislative framework to support the continued development of forestry in the country, adding that the forest policy and legal framework will provide for the establishment of commercial forestry and a forestry sector regulatory authority among others.

Meanwhile, the CS said the 118 granduants at Kenya Forestry College conferred with diplomas and certificates in Forestry Management and Business Management, will be on the frontline in the recruitment of the Green Army Program to help in achieving priority areas in environmental conservation.

“Equipping the Youth with the right skills and competencies will enable them secure high-value jobs in the opening up forestry sector as envisioned in the Kenya Kwanza administration’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and the Ministry’s 2023 to2027 strategic plan,” said Tuya.

The CS challenged the Kenya Forest Service Board to expand the courses offered at the Kenya Forestry College to increase enrolment, noting that the college infrastructure had improved having acquired a stand by generator to ensure continued supply of power.

“The college also has 160-meter solar powered borehole to support water supply, energy saving jikos have also been installed to save wood fuel and provide clean cooking environment. The collage farm productivity has equally improved, there is increased milk, vegetable and maize production to mitigate the rising cost of food,” she added.

At the same time, in order to ensure timber value addition at the institution, the CS said establishment of a sawmill was at an advanced stage for enhanced timber value chains in the country.

Other guests who graced the occasion at the 67-year-old institution and the only Forestry College in Kenya included the Principal Secretary, State Department of Forestry Mr. Gitonga Mugambi, Kipkelion East MP Joseph Cherorot and the Chairman Kenya Forest Service Board Mr. Titus Korir among other local leaders.

By Kibe Mburu and James Kipees

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