Kenya’s President Ruto ends six-year logging ban


Kenya’s President William Ruto has announced the lifting of a nearly six-year ban on logging, a move that has raised concerns among environmental campaigners. The decision, made with the aim of boosting job creation and stimulating sectors reliant on forest products, was revealed by Ruto during a church service in Molo, a town located about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Nairobi, the capital city.

Ruto justified the decision, stating that it was long overdue and emphasized the wastefulness of allowing mature trees to rot in forests while local communities suffered from a lack of timber. He highlighted the need to open up the forest for sustainable timber harvesting, which would generate employment opportunities for the youth and facilitate business growth.

The president, who has positioned himself as a leader in Africa’s fight against climate change, also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to planting 15 billion trees within a decade.

The announcement of the ban’s end is expected to be met with satisfaction by saw millers and timber merchants who had protested against it, citing significant job losses. The ban had been imposed by the previous government in February 2018, specifically targeting public and community forests, as part of an effort to curb illegal logging and increase the country’s forest cover to 10 percent.

However, environmental organization Greenpeace Africa has expressed grave concerns about the decision, warning of its potentially catastrophic environmental consequences. Greenpeace highlighted that Kenya’s forests are home to rare and endangered species, and millions of local people rely on them for their livelihoods, including food and medicine. The organization stated that the ban had made significant progress in forest protection and combating the climate crisis, and lifting it would undermine these achievements, opening the door to profit-driven commercial and illegal logging, with little regard for the consequences.

According to government statistics, the forestry and logging sector contributed 1.6 percent to Kenya’s economy last year. The data also indicated that the total forest cover in the country was 8.8 percent in 2022.

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