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KFS to reclaim all forest encroached land

The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is in process of reclaiming all encroached public forest land within a period of two years.

KFS Chief Conservator Julius Kamau has reiterated that no forest land will be left at the hands of private developers, who claim to have obtained legal land ownership documents.

Speaking during a tree planting exercise at Gatare Forest which is part of Aberdares Wednesday, Kamau noted that in the past three years, KFS has been able to reclaim 57, 000 hectares of encroached forest land.

He said that 14, 400 hectares were reclaimed in Mau Forest, 30, 000 in Samburu, 7, 000 in Mount Elgon; 2, 000 in Sosio and 254 hectares in Makunga forest.

“We are not stopping there, but in the next two years we are targeting to reclaim all encroached public forest land in effort to properly conserve our ecosystem for a better future,” he said.

The Chief Conservator further warned anyone possessing any title deed for public forest land to forget about it, but instead visit KFS offices to get clarification and surrender the land.

“I send a signal to all those who claim to have any document purporting to own part of forest land and with imagination the vague title deed can give them legitimacy to own the land that they are lying to themselves. In fact, they should visit our offices so that we set the records straight,” stated Kamau.

He reflected that in the 1980s and 1990s there was a big challenge in encroachment of forest land saying the government will now deal with the matter decisively to ensure all grabbed land is reclaimed.

Kamau advised members of the public not to perceive public land as wholly government properties, explaining that the forest ecosystem is for the benefit of everyone, hence the need to be well managed and protected.

“Instead of grabbing forest land, members of the public and especially those living at peripheries of forests should play key roles in conserving the ecosystem. Forests are our source of livelihood. They serve as water towers and other essentials like timber and fuel. I challenge members of the community to change the wrong perception that forests are solely government property,” he said.

Kamau called on all KFS field officers to work closely with Community Forest Associations (CFAs) in restoring degraded parts of forests.

“From our assessment in 2019, out of 2.59 million hectares which are under public forests, 408, 000 hectares were degraded. Last year, KFS with help of CFAs was able to restore 70, 000 hectares.

“This year, we are targeting to restore more degraded hectares by planting trees and in a period of two years we want to have a forest ecosystem, which is healthy and integral to be able to supply goods and services to the country,” said the conservator.

Meanwhile, Kamau said they will partner with the county governments and national government agencies to spearhead tree planting not only in public forests, but also in private lands.

The Chief Conservator said they have a national strategy to attain 10 percent forest cover by the end of this year as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The strategy is to involve organizations like schools, government agencies and ministries to come together and plant trees,” he added.

In terms of tree cover, Kamau said the country is at 12.13 percent, which is not enough observing that the country should be talking of more than 30 percent of the same.

“On forest cover, by 2018 we were at 5.99 percent, but now it has increased to 8.3 percent. We have a duty to push members of the public towards attaining more than 10 percent forest cover. Let’s take advantage of ongoing rains and plant trees,” he stated.

By Bernard Munyao

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