The Conservator of Forests has no legal framework to issue movement permits for locally produced charcoal.
According to the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Julius Kamau, his office is only legally permitted to issue movement permits for charcoal coming from outside the country.
“It’s the government’s directive that we can only issue movement permit for imported charcoal but not for charcoal produced locally,” said Kamau during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Kenya Forest Service (KFS), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), and five Community Forest Associations (CFAs) in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
Kamau however, said KFS was discussing with the Ministry of Environment and Forest on how the impasse can be unlocked to ensure that people who produce charcoal in a sustainable way can be vetted and discerned and for KFS to be accorded the right legal instruments to be able to issue the movement permits for locally produced charcoal.
Private landowners in Uasin Gishu who planted wattle trees with the hope of selling the bark for dye-making and to produce charcoal from the trees have been at loggerheads with the government since it banned movement permits for local charcoal.
Since the moratorium banning logging was imposed, no-issuance of movement permits for local charcoal was permitted, leaving private wattle tree farmers staring at losses running into millions of shillings.
On the partial lifting of the ban on logging, the CCF said KFS was reforming its systems to ensure prudent transparency when disposing off forest products.
“We want to be able to integrate our systems so that it will not be us dealing with saw millers in the future but saw millers purely dealing with the systems. This way, we will create accountability,” said Kamau.
He also advised those wishing to invest in the forest industry to ensure they are legally registered with relevant government entities.
“With the reforms we have put in place, we will be checking with other government mechanisms to ensure the companies wishing to enter the forest business are duly registered under the law,” he said.
“In future, to do business with KFS you have to be legitimate to cut out corruption, and instill fairness and justice in disposing of forest materials,” he added.
He further said the investors will be encouraged to develop out-grower schemes by empowering farmers to plant trees so as not to depend solely on public resources.
“Depending solely on public forest will never be enough for all of us. Investors should support farmers to grow commercial tree plantations so that we can have a diversity of tree bought on-farm and in public forests, and this is the only way we shall have a sustainable way of managing our resources,” said the CCF.
By Kiptanui Cherono