The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) targets to earn Sh3.5 billion this year when commercial harvesting of trees resumes in May.
The Forestry Principal Secretary Ephantus Kimotho says the ministry will lock out saw millers who owe the government from previous harvests.
“We are targeting to collect about Sh3.5 billion in one year (coming financial year),” Mr Kimotho said.
“We’re about to start harvesting sometime in May this year. The target is to harvest 5,000 hectares, which is spread across the country where we have forest plantations,” he said.
He said KFS advertised for saw millers earlier this month and the government is registering them until the end of March.
“Some of them have already started paying. And this time round before they are allowed into the forests to go and harvest, they will first have to pay. We’ve given them notices of 30 days.”
Hundreds of saw millers still owe the government approximately Sh450 million, an amount accumulated since 2012.
The PS spoke on Friday during the handing over of seven heavy-duty field utility vehicles procured through Green Zones Development Support Project Phase II, a $50 million forest conservation project funded by the African Development Bank and the Government of Kenya.
The vehicles and other project activities are meant to support the protection and conservation of forests along Mt Kenya, Aberdares and Mau complex belt.
“We have 2.5 million hectares against 2,200 rangers, meaning on average we have one ranger taking care of 1,000 hectares, which is way beyond the global standards of 400 hectares,” said Mr Kimotho.
He said with the current long rains, the government will plant up to six million seedlings, which will enable the rehabilitation of 1,400 hectares of indigenous forest areas and 2,000 hectares of plantations.
The acting chief conservator of forests Alex Lemarkoko observed that recent incidents of forest fires, during drought led to the destruction of approximately 300 hectares of forest area in Mt Kenya, the Aberdares and Mt Elgon.