Archive 2003


Friday, December 12, 2003

Forests boss is sent packing


The chief conservator of forests has been sacked.

Mr Gideon Gathara failed to attend an assessment interview at the Environment ministry headquarters in Nairobi. 

The interviews began last month and ended last week. They were conducted by a panel of officials from the ministry, the Office of the President and the Directorate of Personnel Management.

"We interviewed the last officer on Thursday, but the chief conservator failed to turn up. In my opinion, he has lost his job," the Environment minister Newton Kulundu told journalists yesterday after an aerial view of the Mau forest.

The minister said he would soon receive a report from the panel on 828 forestry officers sent on compulsory leave in October. 

"Based on the report, the ministry will decide on the number to retain and those to dismiss," he added. Some had played a role in the destruction forests and had to face the law.

At the same time, the minister instructed the Rift Valley provincial administration to prosecute any District Officer or chief condoning or abetting charcoal burning. He expressed concern over the rate at which forests were being destroyed.

He noted, for example, that Mau had lost 65,000 hectares in the last two years. "We shall repossess all forest land dished out illegally by the former regime," Dr Kulundu said.

In 1963, Mau covered 177,000 hectares, but 40 years later, only 111,000 are left. 

Dr Kulundu said Lake Nakuru was also threatened because the rivers feeding it had dried up.

Dr Kulundu said the forest cover, which stood at 13 per cent in 1963, had decline to 1.7 per cent. Kenya needed about Sh95 billion to increase the cover to the internationally accepted standard of 10 per cent in the next seven years, he said.

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