The government has announced an exemption to the scope of the earlier imposed national moratorium on logging, for private commercial forest plantation operators and timber products importers.
The exemption announced clarifies that private timber growers operating commercial forest plantations are now permitted to undertake logging activities under strict controls.
However, the moratorium on timber harvesting in all public and community forests still remains in force to allow reassessment and rationalization of the entire forest sector in Kenya.
A media statement issued by Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko, further confirmed that movement permits issued by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will now be required for all timber products from private forest plantations.
In response to stakeholder petitions, the harvesting and felling of timber in private forest plantations will be permitted, provided that joint verification and confirmation of source for products is undertaken.
Timber and timber products imported from neighbouring countries will also require such movement permits, which will be issued upon verification and payment of applicable taxes and levies.
The movement permits, Tobiko said, will now bear enhanced security features. The KFS he added has also been directed to maintain accurate chain of custody records for all timber and timber products.
The statement issued in response to stakeholder concerns, now provides further clarity on the ninety-day moratorium earlier imposed by the government last February.
Saw millers operating from public and community forests, Tobiko said will not enjoy the exemption from the moratorium as operations in the forests are still the subject of ongoing criminal investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and an ongoing inquiry by the Forest Resource Management and Logging Activities Task Force.
“Harvesting, transportation and utilisation of timber allegedly already paid for, felled or yet to be felled by licensed saw millers in KFS plantations as at the time of declaration of the moratorium are not exempted,” Tobiko said.
To ensure the smooth operationalization of the exemption notice, Tobiko said the clarification has been communicated to the KFS and other law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance.