ENVIRONMENT: Communities warned against encroaching forests

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Management and Advisory Services Officer Elphas Wesonga addressing the public during World Wildlife Day in Marigat town, recently. PHOTO/Benson Kelio, The Scholar Media Africa.

Communities living adjacent to gazetted and county trust forests in Baringo have been urged to refrain from encroaching them.

They have been told to instead help to conserve the forests for future generations.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Management and Advisory Services Officer Elphas Wesonga noted that there is over dependency on forest areas in the region for firewood and other resources.

He said that some members of the community were oblivious of the ripple effects of their practice.

Wesonga who spoke at his office in Kabarnet on Friday observed that the behavior which is gaining momentum in areas such as Tugen hills and Koibatek Sub Counties was taking back the gains the county has made in recent years.

The region attained a promising 25.6 percent forest cover according to the 2018 – 2019 KFS survey.

He challenged all stakeholders to continue supporting conservation efforts in the county.

The county has 11,015km2 total land cover with 7.5 percent of the gazetted forest cover highly spread within Baringo Central and Mogotio Sub counties.

“Members of the community have the mandate to team up with officers from KFS by reporting those causing harmful destruction of forests.

We need to fully conserve and protect our forests which are critical catchment areas draining the waters into Lake Baringo, Bogoria and Lake Victoria,” he said.

At the same time the Advisory Service Officer claimed that some Community Forest Association (CFA) officials from the county were involved in internal conflicts.

He said the officials lacked commitment towards fulfilling their mandate.

He noted that it is from such disagreements where a few members of the community have taken advantage of the lapse to destroy the forests.

Wesonga noted that the county has a potential to increase its forest cover by a further 5 percent when the next survey will be carried out if management and conservation efforts are upscaled.  

He called for support from both the national and county government through local leaders to support in improving road network within gazetted forest reserves.

This will improve accessibility and mobility of officers so as to safeguard the forests facing serious challenges of deforestation.

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