Remains of the Karima
forest after wanton
destruction by miners
Nairobi, Kenya — 14 October 2013 – Miners and irreverent land-grabbers are reported to be targeting sacred forests across Kenya, and “The STAR” quotes elders in communities where parts of sacred shrines have been grabbed as saying that they are no longer able to commune with their gods.

“Sacred natural sites and community governing systems bring to the fore the true meaning of sustainable relationship with earth. Wisdom shows that immoral behaviour with the earth does not spare communities and culture,” says Nnimmo Bassey, the co-ordinator of Oilwatch International, which monitors activities of oil companies across the world.

The report, “Recognising Sacred Natural Sites and Territories in Kenya”, shows that thousands of acres of sacred forests are being grabbed or misused due to weak laws and diminishing interest in traditions, says, quoting the newspaper.

“As the younger generations lose respect and interest in their traditions due to western education, so the traditional knowledge about sacred natural sites is lost before it is transferred to the younger generations,” says the report, authored by Adan Hussein for conservation groups, Institute for Culture and Ecology (Kenya), Africa Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation.

Prospectors and miners are now taking advantage of this disinterest to enter the sacred sites for logging and mining, claims the report, which was released in Nairobi last week. It calls for enforcement of existing laws on communal land ownership and for MPs to draft new laws to enforce community governance of their sacred forests and sites.

“There is need to embolden the existing laws to recognise and support the rights and responsibilities of communities to govern and protect their Sacred Natural Sites and Territories on their own terms, according to their customary governance systems,” says Hussein.

Some of the areas affected are Karima Forest in Othaya, Mijikenda’s Kaya Forest, Gitune Forest, the Akamba community’s Mathembo and Kivaa Hill.

Forty sites of the Kaya forests have so far been gazetted for protection by the National Museums of Kenya.

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