More than 4,000 people who had illegally settled in Kirisia forest in Samburu County have volunteered to vacate the forest.
The illegal settlers have also called on the government through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to support them acquire tree seedlings to enable them plant to regain the destroyed forest cover.
The Kirisia Community Forest Association (CFA) Chairperson, Douglas Leboiyare said on Wednesday that those vacating the forest will be resettled along the boundaries of the forest by the KFS.
Leboiyare noted that the CFA held several meetings with community elders together with the KFS to sensitize them on the need of conserving the forest which led to the voluntary vacation.
“Nobody is forcing us out of the forest, we are leaving voluntarily because the CFA and KFS has made us understand the need of conserving this forest,” said Tyson Loldepe, a resident.
Leboiyare noted that while some are moving back to their ancestral villages, the Ntorobos who historically rely on the forest for survival will be settled along the forest boundaries in Tamiyoi area in Samburu Central Sub-county.
The forest encroachers unanimously agreed to move out of the forest by December 21.
The Samburu County KFS Enforcement Commander, Geoffery Okeyo commended the community for voluntarily vacating, adding that those found within the forest after the set vacation deadline will be arrested.
“Those who will fail to move out will be arrested and charged,” he warned.
Okeyo said that Kirisia Forest occupies 92,000 hectares in the heartland of Samburu County and is home to different wildlife and provide livelihood such as honey harvesting to locals as well as sacred grounds for cultural practices.
By Robert Githu