Kenyan logging ban extended for another year
Kenya’s logging ban- introduced in February 2018 as a response to deforestation across the country, caused largely by the informal charcoal industry- has recently been extended for another year, with the intention of allowing the restoration of degraded water catchment areas. With the ban still in place, we explain how Tinder EcoFuels is in the unique position to continue producing sustainable charcoal for sale while legally circumventing the ban.
The extension of the logging ban was announced by Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary mid November, stating that “the extension will allow the scaling up of the ongoing National Tree Planting campaigns aimed at achieving the 10 % forest cover by 2022 as directed by the President”. While the ban actively addresses the growing concerns of deforestation across the country, it has adversely impacted both consumers of charcoal as well as those involved in the charcoal supply chain, estimated to be around 1 million people (informally) employed and more than double the amount in dependents. Logging and charcoal businesses have had to lay off employees, while charcoal consumers in urban areas have been afflicted by price hikes of up to 50%.
The ban was initially introduced as a blanket ban across all regions, regardless of whether lands where logging was conducted were communal, government-owned or private. In April, the ban was revised so as to only be applicable to the former, with logging and charcoal production deemed permissible on private lands.
It is in response to this revisement that Tinder EcoFuels was able to leverage its nimble, lean and flexible business model to continue producing and supplying sustainable charcoal. Tinder EcoFuels’ original production site was launched in Baringo county in early 2017- an area heavily infested by our biomass, the invasive shrub species Prosopis Juliflora. While our site in Baringo proved our business model, the communal nature of these lands meant that once the ban was imposed we were unable to continue our operations, despite building a strong track record of sustainable charcoal production and sales using our modern, efficient carbonisers.
With our operations completely halted, our Kenyan team quickly went on a search for other, privately-held areas heavily invaded by Prosopis, which would allow us to resume operations. We found such an opportunity south of Nairobi near Lake Magadi: a privately-held, 65ha ranch, inhabited by Maasai communities. After building a sound and strong relationship with the heads of these communities, we were able to secure a renewable, 5 year contract to enable us to start production. Over the past couple of weeks, we have resumed operations by building Brazilian Beehive Kilns, which are proven to have an efficiency of up to 25% versus traditional earth mound kilns which have an efficiency of up to 10%. Furthermore, our production cycle has generated livelihoods and income streams for the local communities living on the ranch, as they sell harvested Prosopis to us at fair prices and we are able to offer employment opportunities via the building of Brazilian Beehive Kilns and general site operations. In addition to this site, we have now also secured access to neighbouring Maasai ranches and will be building Brazilian Beehive Kilns in these locations in due course.
While the logging ban may have been extended for another year, our business model has allowed us to quickly and seamlessly adapt by relocating to lands with title deeds. Indeed, the ban has presented a lucrative and exciting opportunity for Tinder EcoFuels as we are able to capitalize on the conditions and continue to produce and sell sustainable charcoal, while other (sustainable) charcoal producers are adversely impacted.