National Land commission has raised alarm as thirst for forest land rises.
Following applications to de-gazette nearly 15,000
hectares of protected land, including forest reserves and animal sanctuaries,
to make way for human settlement and the expansion of two towns, the national
land commission (NLC) has raised the alarm.
The commission revealed that through the National
Environment Management Authority, it had received numerous applications and
environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports seeking to redraw or hive-off
parts of protected forests in seven counties.
A request to de-gazette 10,056.36ha of the OL Arabel
Forest Reserve in Baringo County for human resettlement is among the
Another remarkable application seeks to redraw boundaries
in order to hive off 4,064 hectares from the Mount Elgon Forest Reserve in
Bungoma County in order to allegedly resettle squatters.
The NLC also received a request to de-gazette 700
acres of land in Kakamega County’s Turbo Forest Reserve for purported human
A request to change the boundaries of the Aberdare
Forest Reserve in Nyandarua has been made to free 121.40 ha of land for the
expansion of Ndaragwa township.
“The commission has advised that the de-gazetted
of protected areas (including parks, forest reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries)
sends the wrong message and sets the wrong precedent, which is likely to cause
social chaos and conflict, as well as jeopardize environmental sustainability
and achievement of Kenya Vision 2030 targets relating to forest cover,”
according to a report by the National Land Commission.
The NLC’s protest comes in the wake of contentious
proposed changes to the law that could detach the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) of
its authority to sanction changes to the boundaries of a public forest if
parliament approves them.