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Eleven charged for destruction of forest

Eleven suspects have been released on a Sh 10,000 cash bail each by a Nyeri court after pleading guilty to charges of cutting down 452 bamboo trees in the Aberdare Forest.

Among those charged include Jenifer Wangari, Rose Wambui, Jacinta Wanjiru, Grace Muturu, Margaret Wangari and Elizabeth Nyaguthii.

Others are Joyce Wachuka, Beatrice Wangari, Peninnah Wangechi, Rose Watetu and Grace Njeri.

According to the charges the accused were found inside the Aberdare National Park without a written permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

 They allegedly committed the offence on July 29 at 4:00 pm in Kieni West, Nyeri county.

According to the charge sheet the suspects were arrested by KWS   Rangers Tom Mudavadi and Richard Kiprono who were conducting a routine patrol.

 They were later taken to the Muiga Police Station where charges of destroying forest produce were preferred against them.

Nyeri Resident Magistrate Alfred Kabiru ordered the suspects to be released on a Sh 10,000 cash bail awaiting the mention of the case on August 13  this year.

In the same court, another suspect was charged with trespassing through the same park without authorisation from KWS.

According to the prosecution, the accused Peter Kariuki was arrested in the forest with ten cows, a panga and wire on July 29 this year.

But when he stood to take his plea Kariuki   denied the charges claiming the   officers arrested him near the forest’s fence and not inside the protected conservancy.

“I am the court to pardon me since I had not entered the restricted area   of the forest, I was just grazing my cows at the border when the officers apprehended me,” he claimed.

The court ordered him to be released on a Sh 20,000 cash bail .The   case is set for mention on August 15.

In May this year, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife kicked off a one-week campaign with the intention of planting 10,000 tree seedlings in the Aberdare National Parkin a bid to support the Environment Ministry attain its target of planting more than 1.5 billion trees by the end of this year.

The Administrative Secretary in the State Department for Tourism and Wildlife, John Chelimo, said the State would also be engaging the public to rehabilitate the degraded paddock.

Chelimo also said that they will be taking advantage of the long rains to plant the tree seedlings during the period.

“We are targeting high potential areas in terms of rainfall and low potential areas like Tsavo East and Baringo. Our efforts are aimed at adding to what the other ministries are doing to attain the 10 percent forest cover,” said Chelimo during the exercise which commenced at the Treetops hotel in Kieni-West, Nyeri County.

A total of 1,000 tree seedlings were also planted during the event.

While acknowledging the importance of the Aberdare ecosystem to the tourism sector and as one of Kenya’s water towers, Chelimo also asked national government officials to sensitize the public on the importance of planting trees.

 He noted that despite possessing land, most people, especially those living adjacent to forests, were not keen on planting trees.  

“We need to jealously guard the Aberdare Ecosystem due to its benefits. We need to reach a compromise which is to plant more trees because the wildlife and humans are depending on the forest ecosystem,” said Chelimo.

“If you have a piece of land, set aside at least one per cent for trees including fruit trees. You will have played your part in planting a tree and also benefit from the fruits,” he added.

Out of the 47 counties, Nyeri county accounts for the largest share of the country’s forest cover which currently stands at 38 per cent.

Elgeyo-Marakwet and Baringo follow with over each having 25 per cent forest cover.

Kenya has a forest cover of 7.4 per cent, 3.6 per cent short of the constitutionally accepted 10 percent forest cover.

The decreasing forest cover is aggravated by an abated environmental destruction of trees for charcoal burning and building materials.

Source:KNA

 

 

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