Kenya– By Lucianne Limo, Job Weru and James Munyeki
The Government has set aside Sh200 million to buy specialised firefighting equipment to curb forest fires.
But this budget kitty appears to have come a little too late as raging fires continue to consume vegetation in Mt Kenya and Aberdare National Parks and other grasslands.
Mr Charles Wanja, a mountain guide operating in Mt Kenya, said the fire had subsided in Burguret, Naromoru and Sirimon areas after destroying thousands of acres of moorland and bamboo.
It is feared that thousands of acres of vegetation and animals, most of them rodents, have been destroyed in the fire.
But still, groups of community members, Kenya Forestry Service and Kenya Wildlife Service personnel continue to put out the fire, which they say is spreading fast due to strong winds sweeping through the upper section of the forests, especially at about 3,000m above sea level. Dry conditions are also hampering their efforts.
Mt Kenya and Aberdare are some of Kenyas leading water towers.
And speaking in Nairobi at the World Forestry Day celebrations Wednesday, Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa regretted that the countrys forests are under threat.
The minister said the Sh200 million will be used to purchase surveillance equipment, all-terrain motor vehicles and motorcycles, personal protective gear and other assorted fire suppression tools.
“The equipment will be used by Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service to enhance our capacity on the ground to combat wild fires,” Wekesa said.
KWS said the fires have destroyed trees worth Sh8 billion.
The minister said the cause of the forest fires is due to increased global temperatures and carelessness by enemies of the environment who deliberately set the forests on fire.