By Johnson Chengo
Environmental activists in Kilifi County have faulted President William Ruto’s decision saying he would have consulted them before lifting the six years logging ban.
The activists led by Gro With Us African managing director Kelly Banda, said the ban has caused a lot of mixed reactions with the majority fearing that the country will not hit its target of 15 billion trees by 2032 as part of the effort to combat climate change.
Speaking to the media in Kidundu village after planting more than 10,000 mangrove seedlings, Banda said the president’s move was premature and it will jeopardize the country’s forest cover.
“I wish the president would have consulted us as environmentalists in the space of conservation so that we can discuss in length before him going publicly and lifting the ban. Right now, there is a lot of mixed reaction because you can not champion and at the same time you are doing the opposite. It’s like you are taking wine and preaching at the same time. We don’t see the efforts,” he said.
He said the move will further result in uncontrolled and excessive tree harvesting without adequate checks and balances, hence derailing the efforts made and disregarding the welfare of the environment.
Banda hinted that there was no public participation with the conservation experts in the decision to lift the ban.
“Climate change affects everyone and as environmental defenders are pushing to ensure that mother nature comes back to its normal status, public participation would have been necessitated before lifting of the ban,” Banda said.
The organization has been actively engaged in raising awareness about the importance of environmental conservation, mangrove planting and championing climate change among the public.
He urged Kenyans to keep on planting more mangroves especially along the coastal strip to promote beautifying the ecosystem despite the lifting of the ban.
Environmental specialist climate change advocate and community development practitioner Hannifa Kut said the ban will increase the encroachment of forest products if not reinstated.
“Having put a caveat that identifies what should be done and what should not be done is the right way to go than putting things on a blanket way,” she said.
Kilifi climate change governance platform (KCCGP) chairman Francis Thoya, wondered why the president who has positioned himself at the forefront of African efforts to combat climate change will achieve the vision of planting 15 billion trees by 2032.
“Am not opposed to the president’s directive but it should have followed a gradual consultation among concerned stakeholders before lifting it,” said Thoya.
The moratorium was imposed by former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime in 2018 in state and community forests targeting to stamp out rampant illegal logging and increasing forest cover to about 10 per cent.