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State to protect forest land from encroachment

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Ole Tobiko has reiterated that the state will not allow any person to encroach into forest land in the country.

Tobiko said any person who will encroach any gazzetted forest will be punished according to the law, regardless of their ethnical background.

“Recently we evicted over 15, 000 people from the Kirisia forest in Samburu county. People say I am against certain communities, but the truth is the Samburu are part of the Maa community where I hail from,” he said.

The CS explained that conserving the forest is boosting the standards of livelihood not only in the country, but also in the entire continent as the forest attracts rainfall and increases water levels in the rivers.

“We have seen prolonged rains since we evicted people from the Maasai Mau forest. The impact has been felt after such a short time,” he said.

Tobiko who spoke in Loita ward Friday lauded the community for preserving the 33, 000 acre forest that is the source of several streams used by the households in the community.

A renowned spiritual leader in Maa Community Mkombo Oloiboni, who is famous for preserving the Loita forest said he will not allow the community forest to be sub-divided to group ranches.

“I am against any form of forest demarcation. The forest should remain intact and no person should be allowed to encroach it,” he said.

Tobiko praised the Maasai Oloiboni for his effort in preserving the forest in 1994 when a foreign company wanted to build camps.

“The Oloiboni fought for the forest until he defended his case in court of law where he won,” said the CS.

At the same time, Tobiko announced that the Mau forest will soon be fenced as already adequate funds for the exercise had been released.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta is committed to see the mega water catchment land fenced to preserve the forest against any encroachment. He will come in person to commission it,” he said.

The CS was accompanied by National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) director Mamo B. Mamo and National Environment Trust Fund Director Samson Toniok among other leaders.

Loita ward that borders Tanzania is the only ward in the county that is yet to be demarcated as the residents still live in communal land.

The state has however announced plans to start demarcating the land, first to the five group ranches then to the individual owners. The five group ranches include Olorote, Ilkirin, Morijo, Endersegira and Olmesuti.

By Ann Salaton

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