President William Ruto’s recent decision to lift a six-year ban on logging in Kenya has prompted the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to establish guidelines for the harvesting of mature trees in designated forests. The KFS has announced that forest plantations, which constitute six percent of Kenya’s gazetted forest estate, consist mainly of exotic tree species with a rotation period of 25 to 30 years. After this period, if not harvested, the trees begin to deteriorate.
To ensure responsible harvesting, the KFS has implemented a comprehensive harvesting security plan that includes measures for access control, monitoring, and reporting. Forest station managers will be required to present entry certificates before forest products can be removed. The Forest Service’s statement aligns with President Ruto’s directives and outlines their intention to harvest a maximum of 5,000 hectares per year using felling plans, thus allowing the government to benefit from its investments in forest plantations.
To maintain sustainability, the areas that are harvested will be replanted, as directed by President Ruto. The Forest Service has also automated the process of issuing plantation harvesting licenses through the District Forest Conservators. Furthermore, tax payments related to logging have been automated to ensure compliance with government tax regulations.
Upon completion of logging and the removal of materials, exit certificates will be issued as evidence of compliance with all requirements. The KFS has disclosed that their inventory from 2020 to 2022 revealed a substantial number of mature and over-mature forest plantations. As per the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, the KFS is responsible for managing and utilizing these forest plantations to ensure their profitability.
Based on their findings, the KFS asserts that the disposal of matured materials adheres to the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016. Additionally, they have undertaken e-registration of sawmillers and prequalified applicants into different categories based on their respective capacities.