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Plan to cut trees in Machakos opposed

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Deforestation has been linked to persistent droughts which have led to poor crop harvests in various parts of the country. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A non-governmental organisation has opposed the planned felling of exotic cypress and pine plantations at 22.2-hectare Iveti Forest in Machakos saying it will adversely effect the region’s weather patterns.

Greenpeace Africa senior food for life campaign manager Renee Olende said Iveti Forest, being a crucial water catchment area for Machakos County should be preserved for posterity adding that Kenya is short of the required national forest cover of 10 per cent by 4 per cent.

“Kenya has a target of 10 per cent forest cover but according to Kenya Forest Service only 6.2 per cent of Kenya’s total land is currently covered. The government’s approval to fell mature rees at Iveti forest is wrong and disregards the efforts by local farmers, communities and environmental organisations that are working to increase forest cover in the country,” she said.

Her sentiments come hardly days after Machakos forest Officer James Chomba announced that three saw millers had been selected to clear the forest by November to facilitate planting of new seedlings.

He said 70,000 seedlings had since been raised for planting adding that clearing of trees was part of a management practice by the department.

READ: With solar water, trees grow into a sturdy business in western Kenya

Ms Olende said continued felling of trees has led to persistent and prolonged droughts leading to an increase in the number of people relying on relief food.

“Kenya has recently witnessed extremely debilitating droughts resulting to residents relying on relief food. Farmers and local communities are still reeling from the effects of these droughts,” stated Ms Olende.

“About 3.4 million people are severely food insecure and an estimated 500,000 children require treatment for acute malnutrition. If we continue destroying our water catchment areas, we can only expect these climatic conditions to get worse.”

She called for immediate end to tree felling in government forests saying the rights and livelihoods of local people must be respected.

Forests where large scale destruction has occurred include Embobut, Mau, Mt Kenya and Karura.