Kenya to promote private investment in its forests as it seeks to increase cover

Kenya is to stimulate private investment in its forest and nurture partnerships with timber manufacturers as it seeks to secure 10 per cent forest cover by 2030.

The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) said it would review existing legislation and policy as part of an effort to promote external investment in the country’s forestry sector.

Kenya’s forest cover is currently around seven per cent. Its forests are integral to its economy, regulating 75 per cent of its renewable water and supporting millions of livelihoods. 80 per cent of the energy generated in Kenya comes from wood, and its forests support a variety of animal and plant species. Not to mention drawing tourists from all over the world.

Speaking in the Kenyan town Londiani following a two-day tour of KFS projects in the Nakuru, Baringo and Kericho counties, KFS director General Emillio Mugo said: “Timber manufacturers have been brought on board because they are main stakeholders in forestry.”

Kenya will work closely with manufacturers, Mr Mugo said, asking them to continue investing in production of indigenous seedlings that will be planted in dilapidated forest areas.

The director said the Londiani tree nursery is one of the biggest established, with 2.5 million seedlings that will be distributed for reforestation in Nakuru, Kericho and Baringo.

“The nursery has quality seedlings that will be transplanted and nurtured in degraded areas,” said Mr Mugo. Seedlings in Londiani will be increased from 2.5 million to 4.5 million by next year.

The KFS announcement forms part of the Kenyan government’s National Forest Programme (NFP) covering the period 2016-2030, to guide the country’s management of trees.

Aiming for minimum 10 per cent tree cover by 2030, the NFP seeks to encourage the private sector to invest in forest sector initiatives.

Currently, the KFS is inviting interest in investment opportunities in gazetted forests.

“There is potential for the private sector to invest in different facilities including ecolodges, tree houses, guest houses, restaurants, campsites and canopy walkways,” the KFS said.

“These should give visitors an opportunity to enjoy the diverse attractions and activities available in forest reserves including the flora, fauna, lakes, craters, waterfalls, caves and hills.”

James Barrett, spokesman for GWD Forestry, commented on the news. “Kenya’s mission to develop 10 per cent forest cover by 2030 is to be welcomed. Clearly, the Kenyan government recognises the importance of private sector involvement in stimulating and growing its woods and forests, delivering significant benefits in the process.”

 

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