Residents of West Pokot County have been warned against engaging themselves in forest destructing activities.
Addressing residents of Lomuge area in Pokot South sub-county during the tree planting event yesterday organised by the Kenya Forest Research Institute and Kenya Forest Service, West Pokot County Ecosystem Conservator, Allan Ongere condemned an alleged destruction of a 15 acre forest plantation by locals.
“It is very alarming that a total of 15-acre young forest plantation was uprooted in Kanyaltin by residents. I want to
send a sound warning to those who think they can walk away with such illegal activities, we will deal with you according to the law,” said Ongere.
The conservator observed that the KFS faces many challenges of forest encroachment, charcoal burning, over grazing and other illegal activities like alcohol brewing inside the forest in the region.
He called on the locals to be the grassroots watchdog through joining the Community Forest Association (CFS), saying it will also benefit them.
Through their area chief, the residents lamented of rising cases of chang’aa brewing in Kapkanyar Forest after the
perpetrators were flushed out from the villages by wananchi and police.
The county ecosystem conservation head who is part of the county security committee promised to present the matter to the committee headed by the county commissioner so that it would be dealt with in accordance to the law.
“I understand that the forest area have been converted into an illicit brewing den. Even the brewers have set up hotels to feed their customers and at the same time made those areas to be lodgings. This is unacceptable and soon action will be done,” he said.
The event brought in various environment stakeholders, including National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), Community Forest Association and West Pokot County government.
Edward Mengich, a scientist from KEFRI Rift Valley headquarters in Londiani urged the residents to always seek help in terms of favourable conditions for different tree species before planting.
Mengich said this will help to protect the ecosystem like water catchment areas because some tree species like eucalyptus could suck in a lot of water, making the place dry.
“Please ask the experts of what tree species to plant in your region, where and when to plant them because such factors are very essential. Our researchers are also working on production of biodegradable tubes that will not pollute the environment,” he said.
The West Pokot County Environment and natural resources chief officer Alex Lokimoi condemned destruction of forests in the county.
He cited human action as the source of the elongated drought experienced in the region this year.
“Kenya without forest cover is like a person walking naked in broad daylight, it is sad we are tirelessly working towards that,” he said.
Lokimoi further urged the residents to venture into tree planting as a long term economic activity and promised that the county government through his department was providing free seedlings to willing farmers.
During the event 2,000 indigenous tree seedlings were planted.
By John Saina/Enock Toroitich