Kenya Forests Organisation (Kenya Forests Organisation) is an organization of forestry professionals within the country that was registered in 1979 with the sole purpose of promoting professional practices and setting forestry standards and code of conduct for its membership. The Society has learned of the proposed Forest Conservation and Management (Amendment) Bill, 2021, through the gazette notice published on 19th November 2021 by National Assembly.
Forests are very important ecosystems to the socio-economic development of the country. They provide various ecosystem goods and services that directly or indirectly support the current and future generations and MUST be protected. Furthermore, forests play a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts as noted in the signed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), where Kenya commits to reduce emissions by 32% by 2030. In the Bonn Challenge and the AFR100, Kenya made a commitment to restore 5.1 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes by 2030.
The above notwithstanding, Kenya’s forest cover is way below the global average forest cover of 31%. Over the years, forest resources in Kenya have been threatened through unlawful excisions and changes of boundaries. The paradigm shift was achieved through the repealed Forest Act 2005, which created Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Forest Conservation Committee (FCC), and mandated them to act according to the National Land Policy. FCMA 2016, enacted in accordance to the Constitution of Kenya (COK), 2010, further continues to protect public forests and progressively aid in the achievement and maintenance of a 10% tree cover through institutions such as KFS, FCC, and Community Forest Associations (CFAs).
The society notes with great concern the pressure to vary forestry boundary and in some cases, proposals to degazetted forests in the following ecosystems; Kakamega, Turbo, Ngong, Mau, Mt Elgon, Cherangany/Embobut, Kiambu, Tana River, Kipini/Witu, Aberdare, Mt. Kenya, Arabuko Sokoke, Marmanet, Ol Arabel, Lembus, Got Ramogi among others.
Based on the above, Kenya Forests Organisation OPPOSES the proposed amendment to delete section 34 (2A) of the FCMA 2016 due to the following reasons;
- The proposed amendment will fuel forest encroachment and degazettement, which is a big hinderance to the achievement of the constitutional requirement of attaining and maintaining 10% tree cover in the country;
- The amendment threatens efforts made by KFS and communities CFAs to protect existing forest areas and reclaim lost forest areas;
- The amendment will amplify the risk faced by fragile forest ecosystems such as the those listed above while at the same time leading to biodiversity loss in these forest ecosystems;
- The proposed amendment negates the National and global efforts to address climate change through zero deforestation;
- The proposed amendment does not meet the requirement of Article 118(1) (b) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010;
- The proposed amendment counters the overall object of the FCMA, 2016, which establishes KFS as the key institution in forest conservation and management;
Kenya Forests Organisation opposes any attempt to derail efforts made by its forestry professionals from the various government and private organizations in increasing, protecting, and maintaining the country’s forest resources and greening the nation.