By John Ndiso
NAIROBI (Reuters) – A government taskforce in Kenya has called for the management of the Kenya Forest Service to be sacked and some of its staff investigated for alleged corruption which it said had allowed for illegal logging and significant destruction to forests.
Kenya has a forest cover of 7.4 percent of its land area, compared to around 12 percent 50 years ago. Experts have long warned that the continued destruction of Kenya’s forests will lead to a water crisis that could extend far beyond its borders.
The taskforce, which was appointed to study the extent of deforestation in Kenya, said the Kenya Forest Service was largely responsible for the reduction in forest cover due to its opaque processes for licensing loggers and allowing outright illegal logging.
“The Board and Management of the Kenya Forest Service has been unable to stem and in some instances have directly participated in, abated, and systemized rampant corruption and abuse of office,” the taskforce said in its report published this week.
“By so doing they have overseen wanton destruction of our forests, have systematically executed plunder and pillaging of our water towers and bear the responsibility for the bringing our environment to the precipice.”
It added that despite a 1986 ban on logging indigenous tree species, they were still being cut down.
The report also recommended that any illegal squatters be evacuated from the forests and for communities who have traditionally lived there to be resettled in adjacent areas.
(Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa Kasolowsky)