Monday, May 24, 2010

Logging ban blocks Sh40 billion from the economy- Daily Nation

The destruction of forest resources saw the government put in place a 10 year ban. The Kenya Forest Service is, however, asking for its lifting saying it has put its house in order.  Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI

The destruction of forest resources saw the government put in place a 10 year ban. The Kenya Forest Service is, however, asking for its lifting saying it has put its house in order. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI 
Posted Saturday, May 22 2010 at 16:47
The 10-year ban on logging in public forests has locked up Sh40 billion in revenue to the local timber industry.
Even as the three-year-old Kenya Forest Service works to broaden its income base, it is unable to harvest approximately 38,000 hectares of over-mature exotic plantations valued at Sh36 billion due to the decision effected in 2000 by the Cabinet.
Another 18,000 hectares of trees between 10 and 22 years valued at Sh3.5 billion are due for commercial thinning.
The ban was first imposed in October 1999 for 90 days by the Minister for the Environment.
In March the following year, it was extended through a Cabinet decision to give the forest department time to complete the inventory of all plantations.
At the time, concern was the mismatch between the rate of logging and that of replanting. There were 46,000 hectares which had been harvested but not replanted - which indicted the department’s ability to put in place a prudent management of forest resources.
A break-down in licensing procedures had also seen the emergence of briefcase saw millers resulting in poor revenue.
Large-scale timber millers like Pan Africa Paper Mills, Raiply, Timsales and Comply that consume 75 per cent of wood harvested from State forests were, however, exempted from the logging ban.
This has created the perception of un-equitable access to timber resources by all players in the industry.
Sustainable management of forests requires that there is equitable distribution of costs and benefits to the society. KFS is now pushing a strong case for the lifting of the ban, arguing that it has put its house in order.
“We have given our recommendations and we are waiting for the lifting of the ban. It was done through a Cabinet decision and it is the only one that can lift it,” the KFS senior deputy director Mr Emilio Mugo said recently.
According to him, KFS has already mapped out areas where harvesting of trees could be done. It has also drawn felling plans. More than 1,000 forest rangers have been recruited since 2002, established a rapid response team and strengthened the field units to stem illegal activities.
In addition, Mr Mugo says, it has prepared subsidiary legislation to regulate community and private sector involvement in management of forests.
This will enable the parastatal to annually determine sustainable harvesting levels based on forest management plans. It has pre-qualified saw-millers for harvesting timber in State forests.
Regulations for production, transportation and trade in charcoal which will provide a framework for community engagement while streamlining charcoal production especially in the dry lands, will soon be in place.
Private firms
According to Mr Mugo, innovative forest management systems as the one the country has adopted will help boost forest cover since it includes community participation.
The social and economic impact of the ban has resonated in the entire timber industry and tertiary services associated with it.
Small timber manufacturers who have been surviving on raw materials from private farms have been warning of more job losses unless the ban is lifted.
Apart from the closure of 300 saw-mills with 50,000 direct jobs and an estimated 300,000 indirect ones, the ban has created timber scarcity
Story Courtesy of Daily Nation 

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