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Kenyan environmental court halts lifting of logging ban

Freshly cut pine-tree logs are loaded onto a trailer in Sabatia forest in Eldama Ravine town, Baringo county on August 02, 2023.   -  
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Khalil Senosi/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


A Nairobi court on Thursday suspended Kenyan President William Ruto's decision to allow logging to resume in state forests after a more than five-year ban.

It was put in place by the previous government in 2018 in a bid to stop illegal logging and raise Kenya’s tree cover to 10 per cent.

But in July, Ruto lifted the ban saying this would create jobs and develop sectors of the economy that depend on forest products.

However, the Environment and Land Court on Thursday ruled that the measure was "null and void" due to a lack of public debate on the issue.

The judge said petitioners and members of the public had the right to participate in the making of laws, regulations, and guidelines governing forestry activities.

Lawyers for environmental protection groups had argued that the government failed to consult the scientific community on the environmental impact of a return to logging.

They said this was in “total disregard of the crucial role that forests play in mitigating climate change, preserving biodiversity, and safeguarding vital ecosystems".

In his presidential campaign in 2022, Ruto had made the planting of 15 billion trees one of the key measures in his programme to combat climate change.

According to official statistics, the forestry industry contributed 1.6 per cent to Kenya's GDP last year.

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