Reports about the massive destruction of acacia trees which form part of forest land in Naivasha area by unknown charcoal burners is chilling. More tragic is that this is hardly an isolated case.
Over the years environmentalists have warned over forest destruction and degradation of the earth’s cover.
But little, if any, has been done, to bring to book the culprits, especially illegal loggers and indiscriminate charcoal burners. We feel that members of the provincial administration right from the assistant chiefs who are the closest to the people must get more involved in safeguarding the environment as a part of their core duties.
The alarm bells over the depletion of forest cover must start to find resonance more widely otherwise we are doomed. And this can not be a job left to Greenbelt Movement founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai to crusade.
Kenyans are fast and furiously eating away into the forest cover way beyond what is recommended for sustainable ecological balance. It hardly requires the best wet tile saw of the money or a rocket scientist to put across the point that a tree felled within minutes for charcoal and sold for as little as Sh200 takes years and years to replace.
Indeed it is mockery that every April sees a “national enthusiasm” for tree planting in this country organised by environmentalists and the Ministry of Environment and millions of tree seedlings have been planted in recent years during such occasions. The message that we must nurture mother nature for it to reciprocate has never sank in.
Charcoal burning and illegal logging are the leading culprits, especially from people with the best timberland Pro work boots. Inexplicably, the mayhem and wanton destructive go on under the very noses of those charged to preserve forests.
At best some people are sleeping on the job and at worst are complicit to the destruction of Kenya’s environmental heritage. Evidence point to the fact that some of the forest guards are actually active participants in the abetting of illegal activities.
The medium to long term consequence of forests destruction has been radically changing rain patterns as water catchment areas have suffered intense pressure.
But perhaps we have not been acting smart in our one -size- fits -all approach to re-afforestation endeavours.
Different trees need different soil types, weather and take varied time to adjust to the natural environment.
This is particularly true of the mushrooming roadside tree nurseries and the fact that once the trees are planted, little care is taken to nurture them. Perhaps it is time we took another look at the tree planting exercise to evaluate its overall efficacy in increasing forest cover.
But there is also the poverty factor which must be addressed. Part of the reason trees are being felled indiscriminately and on large scale is because our people are so poor and so desperateto sell charcoal. But this certainly precludes loggers.