Forestry bill in final drafting stage at attorney general chambers


The long-awaited Forestry Bill, aimed at making vital amendments to the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act, Cap 40, is now in its final drafting stage at the Attorney General Chambers and is poised to be presented in Parliament.

This development was confirmed by Jacob Kinai, the legal advisor to the Ministry of Forestry and Research, during a session with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) earlier this week.

The Public Accounts Committee was reviewing the 2024 Appropriation Bill when Jacob Kinai disclosed the progress of the Forestry Bill.

Kinai emphasized that the bill has been under review at the Attorney General Chambers since 2020 and has undergone multiple iterations, with the current version being the fifth.

“We are now at version 5, so, in reality, we rely heavily on drafters to finalize the bill. We are eager to push it through Parliament,” Kinai said.

However, Kinai noted that just last week, they received version 5 for further review by drafters before finalization.

He also pointed out that many regulations, including the Code of Logging Practice, are outdated and in need of review, underscoring the importance of passing the new bill.

The primary objective of the Forestry Bill is to amend the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act to make it more robust and forward-looking, accommodating the changing landscape of activities and developments in the forestry sector.

The secondary objectives of the recommended amendments to the Act include:

Enabling the Act to adapt to changes in the forestry sector and its relevant regulations.

Introducing a “Forestry Technical Committee” to replace the “Commissioner of Forest Resources” for issuing licenses.

Substituting “Council of Chiefs” for “appropriate Government” and “Tribal Land Panel” for “Customary Land Appeal Court” in Section 10(1) to address land matters.

Updating penalties to “a fine of fifty thousand dollars and five years’ imprisonment or both” in Section 17.

Establishing a Forestry Board with diverse responsibilities, including appeals, advising the Minister, and making decisions on forestry-related issues.

The Forestry Board’s decisions will be final and hold significance in various aspects of forestry management and policy.

The impending introduction of the Forestry Bill to Parliament marks a significant step toward modernizing and strengthening forestry regulations in response to changing industry dynamics. The bill’s objectives encompass accommodating sector changes, ensuring responsible licensing and enforcement, and establishing a robust framework for the future of the forestry sector. Stay tuned for further updates as this crucial legislation progresses.

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