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Officers abetting illegal logging to be prosecuted

The  Environment Cabinet Secretary (CS), Keriako Tobiko has warned forest officers against abetting illegal logging.

Tobiko said officers who facilitate or abet the vice will be prosecuted in court.

Tobiko who was speaking after receiving a sealed document containing names of former and serving Kenya Forest (KFS) officials who have been involved in criminally related malpractices said he will forward it to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for investigations.

Speaking Monday in Nairobi while receiving a report by a task force appointed to look into the management of forestry resources in the country, Tobiko commended the task force for a job well done in compiling the report insisting that the implementation of the report will be done the right away.

“We need an independent care taker management team with special authority comprising of competent persons in the KFS to look at the systems, involved persons and the people directly affected that is the saw millers,” said Tobiko.

The  Task force chairperson, Ms. Marion Kamau said that it is time that Illegal squatters be removed from the forests and dwelling communities resettled next to the forest.

Ms. Kamau said that the Board and Management of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has been unable to stem the vice and in some instances have been directly involved in a systemised rampant corruption and abuse of office stating that legal action will be taken against them.

She further said that illegal logging of indigenous trees is a major threat to forest and is rampant in key forest areas, citing Cedar as the most targeted tree species.

“Destruction of indigenous forest was observed in many critical forest areas due to illegal squatters, unclear forest zonation and introduction of irregular settlements and large scale public infrastructure developments,” said Ms. Kamau.

She insisted that the Cabinet Secretary should expedite the process of constituting of a new KFS Board and establish an organ with powers to undertake investigation and prosecution of any officers of the KFS whose evidence of malpractices have been identified during vetting.

“Forest zonation must be reviewed to establish a core conservation zone, surrounded by a multiple –use buffer zone and a width of which should not exceed 500 meters,” said Kamau.

By  Brian Munene/Kevin Gitau

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