November 16, 2009
Kenya starts forest eviction
NAIROBI — The Kenyan government on Monday began evicting settlers from the Mau forest, the country's main water catchment area, which deforestation has shrunk by a quarter in 20 years, an official told AFP.
"The operation commences today. It targets illegal settlers in the southwestern part of the Mau," said Christian Lambrechts, a scientist from the United Nations Environment Programme under contract to the government.
"The people who are in this forest have no title deeds," he said, referring to the bamboo forest affected by the first batch of evictions from the wider Mau complex, which covers 400,000 hectares or almost one million acres.
When the first phase of the evictions is completed, the government will still have to deal with the more sensitive issue of the other settlers who have title deeds.
The fate of the Mau, coupled with one of the worst droughts in years, has sparked an intense political debate and an unprecedented environmental drive in Kenya this year.