Nairobi, 7th July 2023 (Swara) – The Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG) and East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) have voiced significant concern regarding President Dr William Ruto’s recent announcement of the lifting of the logging ban in Kenya’s commercial plantation forests.

The announcement, made during a church service in Molo on July 2, 2023, has sparked debate among conservation bodies. While KFWG and EAWLS understand the potential importance of harvesting mature trees in exotic plantations, they emphasize the urgent need to uphold the ban on logging in indigenous forests. These forests provide critical ecosystem services, such as mitigating climate change, that must be safeguarded over short-term economic benefits from logging.

Both organizations are calling on relevant committees in the Senate and National Assembly to summon the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to review and implement recommendations from the 2018 Taskforce Report on Forest Resources Management and Logging Activities in Kenya. These include effective management strategies for public plantation forests and promoting investment in private forest plantations.

In light of this proposed policy change, the parliamentary committees are also being urged to demand that the KFS provide a clear plan for handling previous financial commitments by saw millers and addressing instances of illegal logging that occurred during the ban.

As logging in commercial forests resumes, Kenyans deserve transparency about the intended use of the proceeds from such activities, especially considering the Forest Conservation and Management Fund, as per Section 27 of the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, is yet to be established.

Given the confusion caused by the President’s announcement, KFWG and EAWLS are pressing for an official government statement. This statement should clarify which forests will be subject to logging, the reasons behind the ban lift, and the measures to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

The KFS is also being urged to publicly share its tree felling, harvesting, and replanting plans and a comprehensive inventory of plantations. Information should include details on tree volume, locations, acreage, and age. This data should be released before logging in public plantation forests is permitted. Additionally, the two organizations are calling for the restoration of any plantations within indigenous forests to their original state, in accordance with the 2018 taskforce’s recommendations.

KFWG and EAWLS express their deep concern that lifting the logging moratorium without due consideration of these recommendations and concerns could have severe consequences for Kenya’s indigenous forests.