Kenya: Mau forest task force tension on evicting encroachers, meanwhile arsonists set it all on fire

Sharp divisions have emerged among members of the taskforce on the controversial Mau complex, just days before the release of their much awaited report, the Nation has learnt. It is understood that some members, especially those from Rift Valley, had refused to sign the report that holds the key to whether communities illegally residing in the complex will be evicted. On Tuesday, Forestry and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa said he had been reliably informed by senior officials in his ministry of the new development.

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Although the minister did not divulge further details, it appears that
those who had declined to sign the report had reservations with some
recommendations. The report is expected to be presented to Prime
Minister Raila Odinga in the next two weeks before it is taken to the
Cabinet for further discussions. “I have not seen the report itself,
but I’m reliably informed by my officers that certain individuals have
refused to sign it,”

Dr Wekesa said at his office in Nairobi. And the minister could not rule out political interference on the controversial issue, coming at a time when MPs from the region have openly opposed the planned eviction of squatters from the forest. The MPs last weekend rekindled the issue at a thanksgiving ceremony for the new Roads minister Franklin Bett in his Bureti constituency. Mr Odinga was also present. They vowed to resist any move to evict those in the forests. Other legislators from the region have also previously opposed the evictions.

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Ten people have been arrested over the wild fires that continue to
destroy key forests in Kenya. Already, some 4,651 hectares of forest
were reported to have been destroyed on Tuesday, with the government
estimating that the losses are more than Sh65 million.

The area affected by the blaze, according to surveyors, is equivalent to
Nairobi’s entire Eastlands area. The worst hit areas are those within
the Mau Complex, including Koibatek, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Kericho.
Others are Makueni, Trans-Nzoia, Chuka, Meru, Nyeri and Kiambu
districts. Cases of fires were on Tuesday still being reported in
bamboo forests in Chogoria and Chuka areas.

There were reports thatthe fires were spreading towards Kirinyaga District. Other areas thatwere still experiencing fires included the Gathiuru forest in Nyeri, Aberdares in Nyandarua-Kipipiri and Kaptuget in Koibatek.

The government on Tuesday deployed a combined force of 4,500 personnel
from the Kenya Army, Kenya Forest Services, National Youth Service,
Administration Police, the Provincial Administration and members of
the Community Forest Associations to assist in putting out the fires.

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Comments (11)

emillyMarch 30th, 2009 at 4:04 am

kenyans let us think straight and stop destructing our forests, we will all die of hunger surely look at lake victoria, where are we heading to?ets put politics aside and have a vision for our forest they are our means of life but we shud conserve them. to the politicians when they all die, there will be no one to give you votes so to keep your votes, pliz have mercy on the mau foret its too painful to see six countries suffer becoz of the destruction we are doing think big kenyans

Prime Minster Mr Raila Odinga has asked communities living around and in the Mau forest to realise that they will lose the most when the water catchment area is destroyed.

The Prime Minister said it was primarily for the locals that the government was trying to save the water catchment areas around the country.

At the same time, Mr Odinga asked African Parliaments to give priority to the protection of the environment saying failure to do that was exposing the Continent to dangers of desertification in the years ahead.

Speaking when he received a delegation from the Pan African Parliament, UNEP and UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in his offices, Mr Odinga said time was running out for Kenya and Africa to preserve the environment.

“We don’t have an option here in Africa and the time to act is now. Unless something is done about environmental degradation, Africa will be lost,” the PM said.

Mr Odinga said Kenya’s forest cover has fallen from 12 per cent at independence to 1.7 per cent and dwindling at present.

He said the degradation of Mau and other forests across the country had left Kenya vulnerable to global warming whose signs were being seen in lesser and more unreliable rainfall while snow disappears from Mt Kenya.

The PM condemned the burning of Mau forest in recent days saying it was the work of anarchists.

“The anarchists seem to be saying that if they can’t have the forest then nobody will have it. They think they are doing it to fight somebody not knowing they are fighting themselves. When these forests are finally destroyed, the whole nation will suffer. But the locals will suffer most,” Mr Odinga said.

Speaking at the function, Ms Feng Min KAN, a senior coordinator with the Geneva-based UNISDR, asked MPs to take lead in efforts to stop global warming.

She said climate change should be dealt with at the level of heads of State and government for it to bear fruits.

“We would like to have prime ministers and president’s taking lead in helping stem effects of climate change,” Ms Feng said.

The Pan African Parliamentarians said they were concerned about the minimal attention heads of states and heads of governments in Africa are giving to climate change.

LangatApril 6th, 2009 at 12:52 am

Dear True Kenyans,

Realistically speaking the politics of the day should not be allowed to play a role in determining the country’s posterity in terms of Natural resouces. Every single smart politician is expected at the minimum to appreciate and differentiate between cheap politics and matters tyhat can have a far reaching implications on the lives of the citizens. The Mau destruction and its environmental deradation impact require no expert to exp[lain to an average person its gravity now and in future. Can our politicians style up and be what they should be?

Lang’at Moi University.

felix cheruiyotMay 21st, 2009 at 10:35 pm

dear kenyans
The mau issue is not something we can risk leaving it out to our politicians , i come from the heart of Mau and i can tell you , the last time i was home , i hated it its slowly developing in to a desert , its not about our people its about the lifes of our children , we need to be honest with ourselves. its not about staying or eviction either is not impotant it is about the risk we pose to our children, about the climate change and the risk it poses on not only mau but the life our animals and wildlife , our vegetation and the back bone of our economy agriculture . now even our own pride Milk is no where to be seen. it will only take sober people to solve see this that is me and you
let us mind about our future generation
kizazi kipya initiative

Leonard LangatMay 25th, 2009 at 12:50 am

Mau is referred to as a complex befiting both its geographical and functional complexity. Leaving the Mau issue as a matter between Kipsigis and Maasai communitities is grossly mistaken. May I emphasise that this is a matter of international interest and magnitude. I is in fact a gazetted forest and not a property of the mentioned communities or any other community in Kenya.

I would therefore urge the politicians for around Mau to shun away their private and corporate vested interest in the mau and deal with the matter objectively, wholistically and exemplelarly without fear or favor. Huu ni uzalendo wa ukweli.

Leonard Langat, Moi University.

TooJuly 24th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

My fellow kenyans please let us understand the important of our mau forest and take about it,Its our natural given so please preseve it for future generation.

Caroline TapsabeiJuly 28th, 2009 at 12:35 am

Lets evict them and resettle them, period. By evicting 40,000 people with no alternative is creating more IDP’s which is very shameful.

RuthJuly 28th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

The forest has a huge impact on our ecosystem see time is running out and before you know it its all gone. Right now we are having irregular weather patterns, water shortages low food productions it all comes to the Forest. Those living in the forests should be evacuated at that time if the delay continues another percentage will be lost we are now at 1% what happens if we politic about this issue.remember once it is gone it is gone Ruto!!

Griffin WafulaOctober 21st, 2009 at 4:21 am

Please let those greedy, selfish and self centred politicians shut up their mouths so that Mau is restored to its initial status. The conservation of the forest will benefit many including those across the Kenyan border. It sounded silly for awhole minister uttering nonse that how will the destruction of Mau affect the people in Mombasa! Atleast this country should have serious ministers with good academic qualification related to the ministries they represent.

Nicholas BiiNovember 26th, 2009 at 3:23 am

it is good to preserve the forest to retain the natural biodiversity.My question is why do we leave the political elites who have big lands there and deal with poor Kenyans? Non of the politicians bought the land like this innocent people.this in my own view widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Let resettle them somewhere and the government to respect human rights especially for children.
Nicholas _ kiptagich extension

orwe ellyJanuary 14th, 2010 at 1:10 am

people should be evicted from mau complex irrespective of politcal begwig to enable our future generation to enjoy the God given natural resource.

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