Kenya logging plans upset UNEP chief

Posted: 5 March 2001

Plans by the Kenyan Government to clear and resettle forests at the foot of Mount Kenya have come under attack from the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which has its headquarters in Nairobi.

Commenting, in February 2001, on the government's announcement that it plans to turn 168,000 acres of Mount Kenya into settlements, Klaus Toepfer said:

"The short-term economic gains of clearing woodlands for timber or agriculture must be matched against the even bigger, long-term, losses as a result of uncontrolled and unsustainablel deforestation."

The Kenyan Government argues that the land is already settled and now needs formal management.

This is only the latest in a longstanding conflict over the Government's land allocation plans. Large parts of Mount Kenya's 500,000 acres of forest have already been cleared by logging and marijuana cultivation, and Kararu forest on the northern outskirts of Nairobi has been under pressure for many years.

As reported in our Features section, Professor Wangari Maathai, leader of the tree-planting Greenbelt Movement, has been fearlessly campaigning to save this forest against official opposition.