Logging ban cuts Sh4bn revenue hole in forestry


A man smoothing timbers at a furniture factory. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Forestry services has lost Sh4 billion revenue in the last four years following the ban on logging in public and community forests, shedding 44,000 jobs.

A study by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) indicates that the ban has also contributed to economic collapse of forest dependent centres and communities.

“As a resulted of the ban 44,000 workers in the forest sector have been declared redundant leading to annual income loss of Sh4 billion,” disclosed Dr Joshua K. Cheboiwo, Director Kefri.

According to the report released last week, the ban has also resulted in increase of importation of timber from 3,231.38 cubic metres to 29, 355.39 cubic metres leading to a loss of foreign exchange of Sh1.04 billion.

“The logging ban had serious socio-economic impacts to various players on the forestry sector in the country. The price of timber rose by 22.7 percent, the cost of fuel wood increased by 25.5 percent, charcoal by 40 percent, treated poles by 15.3 percent,” said Dr Cheboiwo.

The increase in prices culminated to additional fuel wood expenditure of Sh1.3 billion by the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) factories, Sh3 billion by schools, Sh46 million by tobacco firms and Sh19.7 by charcoal consumers.

“The logging ban has led to economic collapse of forest dependent centres and communities mostly around Maji Mazuri, Mau Summit, Elburgon, Molo, Makutano, Kaptagat and Bukar,” said Dr Cheboiwo in the report.

He called for elaborate governance framework to promote sustainable management of the forest resource and enhance attainment of the targeted 10 per cent forest cover.

“The frequent bans undermine the investor confidence in attainment of Big 4 Agenda of wood based manufacturing, employment creation and attainment of 10 percent tree cover aspirations through commercial plantations,” added Dr Cheboiwo.

The construction and building industry consumes over 8 million cubic metres of timber annually saving the country over Sh24 billion in terms of imported timber products.

The timber industry is among major contributors of the national revenue with the North Rift collecting Sh663 million as royalties from forest products in the 2019/2020 financial year.

But the sub-sector is faced with a blink future due to acute shortage of logs, pushing high the cost of timber which has impacted negatively on the operations of building and construction industry.

A spot check by Business Daily revealed minimal operations as most of the trucks that have been transporting logs from the forest are off the road.