activists celebrate Forest Bill

By henry neondo

The Kenya Forests Working Group, a subcommittee of the East African Wild Life Society, is celebrated recently the passing of the Forest Bill 2005 by the Kenya Parliament.

The Bill was passed at its second reading, the critical stage where the Forest Bill 2004 was defeated last year.

Usually, at this stage, Kenya’s Members of Parliament show their support by acclamation or by vote, and determine whether the Bill goes to the next stage, which is the third reading and adoption.

The changing of the law governing forests started way back in 1994. The Forests Act (Cap 385) formulated in 1942 and adopted at independence (1963) as the law for forests was clearly outdated.

As a lobby group, KFWG has been at the forefront in campaigning for this change. In addition, KFWG and its members have provided input into the actual policy and law.

Most recently, KFWG and the Forest Action Network, through the support of the Department for International Development (DFID), were instrumental in forming the National Alliance for the Forests Bill 2005 to campaign for parliamentary approval of the Forest Bill 2005.

The Alliance ran a visible campaign in the local dailies, radio and TV stations to highlight the merits of the Bill and ask Kenyans to urge their members of parliament to vote for the Bill.

The Bill will now go through minor amendments proposed by the MPs, before it comes back to parliament for the third reading. It will then be presented to the President for signing into law.

Started in 1995, the KFWG is a forum for individuals, organizations (government and non-government, local and international) to discuss and strategize on emerging forest issues.

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