Kenya: U.S. firm cancels plans for oil exploration in Arabuko forest

Arabuko-Sokoke coastal forest, Kenya22 November 2014, Nairobi  – CAMAC energy, a US based oil and gas exploration firm, has cancelled a planned seismic survey in Arabuko-Sokoke forest in Kilifi county.

The exercise which was to begin this month had met with protests from environmentalists who said that the survey might leave an irreparable damage to the forest.

Arabuko-Sokoke is the largest remaining fragment of the East African coastal forests, holding the last populations of some endangered birds and mammals.

In a statement, Camac energy’s managing director Augustin Nkuba said it has decided to cancel the exercise following concerns by stakeholders.

“We have made this decision in spite of the fact that we have complied with all recommendations and government requirements and also believe that the acquisition would not have had an adverse effect on the ecosystem in the forest. However, with the concerns raised we will not acquire the two seismic lines within the forest as previously planned. ” Nkuba said.

Nkuba further said that the firm recognises the fragility of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest ecosystem saying it will conduct all its work within an Environmental and Social Impact study carried out by Nema and the Forest and Wildlife services.

“We are committed to working with the National and County governments, the communities we are operating and all stakeholders” the firm’s MD stated.

Earlier this month several community groups in Kilifi petitioned Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi to stop the exercise saying Camac Kenya Limited did not contact them and they are therefore unsure if a proper Environment Impact Assessment was conducted.

Renown Kenyan naturalist Fleur Ng’weno says the fragile Arabuko-Sokoke forest is already under pressure and any further encroachment or disturbance will be disastrous.

Africa’s oldest environmental society, the East Africa Natural History Society — popularly known as Nature Kenya– is also opposed to exploration inside Arabuko Sokoke.

“The seismic surveys will do outright damage to the forest,” says Dr Paul Matiku, the executive director of Nature Kenya. “The transect lines cut through the forest.”
*The Star

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