Nairobi (AFP) – Logging has been banned in Kenya since 2018. President William Ruto on Sunday decided to lift the ban to promote job creation and development of sectors dependent on forest products. A decision that worries environmental associations.
Despite the concerns expressed by environmental groups, Kenyan President William Ruto announced on Sunday, July 2, the lifting of the almost six-year-old ban on logging.
William Ruto said the “long overdue” decision was aimed at creating jobs and developing sectors of the economy that depend on forest products.
“We cannot have mature trees rotting in the forests while people suffer from a lack of wood. This is madness,” the president said at a church service in Molo, a town about 200 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, the capital. “That’s why we decided to open the forest and harvest wood, to create jobs for our young people and open businesses.”
William Ruto, who has positioned himself at the forefront of African efforts to tackle climate change, assured that the government is sticking to its target of planting 15 billion trees over the next 10 years.
Greenpeace warns of “catastrophic consequences”
The lifting of the ban will please the sawmill and timber trade sector, which lamented that it had caused many job losses.
The moratorium was imposed by the previous government in February 2018 in public and community forests to eradicate endemic illegal logging and increase the country’s forest cover to 10%.
For Greenpeace Africa, its repeal risks having “catastrophic environmental consequences”.
“In Kenya, the forests are home to rare and endangered species and millions of people depend on these forests for their livelihood, for food and medicine,” the NGO warned last month as part of a petition launched against this increase.
“Since the Kenyan government introduced the logging ban six years ago, significant progress has been made in protecting forests and tackling the climate crisis.”
“Removing the ban will undo all our hard work as it will open the floodgates to commercial and illegal logging driven solely by profit,” according to the NGO.
Logging contributed 1.6% of Kenya’s GDP in 2022, with forests covering 8.8% of the territory, according to government statistics.