Conservationists across the country have faulted the National Assembly’s Procedure and House Rules Committee MPs for having the intention of repealing Section 34 (2) of the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, warning that Kenya would lose more than half of its protected forest should the proposed amendments to the forest laws be passed.
Kenyan conservationist have further cautioned that by passing such an amendment would definitely lead to the watering down the central role played by the Kenya Forest Service in the excision or alteration of protected forest boundaries within the Country.
The section in contention presently compels parties or individuals agitating to have boundaries of protected forests changed to seek concurrence from KFS. The proposed change essentially means that Kenya Forest Service will lose a say in the excision or alteration of protected forest boundaries if the amendments sail through. The changes are contained in Forest Conservation and Management (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The Forest Conservation and Management (FCM) Act was passed in 2016 and subsequently Amended in 2018 through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2018.
In 2018, the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act introduced section 34(2A) to the Act, which stipulates that: A petition under subsection (l) shall only be forwarded to the National Assembly on the recommendation of the Kenya Forest Service.
With the current law requiring KFS to make technical recommendations to Parliament on the effects of any proposed forest boundary variation or excision on endangered, rare and threatened species and the ecologically sensitive areas, jumping the KFS requirement would almost spell doom for our forest if the proposed amendments are passed.
Such an amendment would reverse the gains made over the past 15 years in restoring of public forests and water catchment areas, compromise the protection of these forests and thus deny Kenyans access to these forest goods and services which are critical to their survival.
As a result, the Conservation sector players have unanimously joined hands to call upon all Kenyans to petition against this proposed amendment as a gesture towards safeguarding our forests. They need your voice, your help, and your signature on this petition.
Natural Justice, an organization that supports local communities and allowing them to participate in decisions that affect the stewardship of the environments on which their livelihoods and cultures depend have in this light developed a factsheet to shed more light on the proposed Amendment, its potential legal implications, why the public should care and how they can engage in this process