Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko has sounded an environmental alarm on the over exploitation of water resources from Mt Kenya rivers, adversely affecting forest conservation efforts in the area.
Accompanied by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chairman Peter Kinyua among other senior officers, Tobiko undertook an aerial and ground survey across the Mt Kenya region this weekend and stumbled on tens of water intake points.
While discounting earlier reports alleging that suspected illegal loggers are breaching the current logging moratorium, Tobiko said a multi-agency surveillance team had not established any serious illegal logging or destruction of the forest.
“However, it is clear that there’s massive over exploitation upstream of water resources. In Sagana river, there are about 75 intake points and 45 on Thegu River which is disproportionately high,” Tobiko said.
He promised to consult and liaise with his Ministry of Water and Sanitation counterpart Simon Chelugui, to undertake a study geared at rationalising the utilization of water resources from Mt Kenya forest.
Tobiko, at the same time warned suspected illegal loggers against breaching the current logging moratorium. The suspected loggers have been sneaking to Gazetted Forests around Mt Kenya and sneaking out timber logs to saw millers in the vicinity.
Speaking when he undertook an extensive aerial and ground inspection of the vast Mt Kenya and Aberdare Forests, Tobiko stressed that the moratorium against logging was still in force.
Security surveillance by a multi-agency unit, he said has been beefed up to nab unscrupulous individuals undertaking illegal retrieval of forest products.
At a stop over at the Kabaru Forest Station in Nyeri County, Tobiko warned that suspects undertaking illicit activities in gazetted forests will be dealt with the full force of the law.
Recent media reports had indicated that just months after the government banned logging to restore water levels in the, the vice had bounced back at Kabaru Forest in Mt Kenya, mainly targeting the red cedar trees.
Protecting our environment and forests is a shared responsibility that we shall relentlessly pursue to make our cities, among other urban and rural towns, environmental centres of excellence,” Tobiko reiterated.
During the visit, Tobiko reiterated that the six-month extension on the earlier 90-day moratorium was still in force.
The moratorium extension issued at the end of May, he said will remain in force as efforts to streamline the management of the local forestry sector get into high gear.
This follows the recent appoint of a substantive KFS Board of Management.