by Robert Manyara
NAKURU (Xinhua) --
Forest conservation is a thriving new job for
many Kenyan communities thanks to the country’s laws encouraging
community participation in environmental protection.
Daniel Korir and Wesley Kiplangat are both members of indigenous
community, Ogiek Community Forest Association (CFA) registered
with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
They are taking part in the conservation of a section of Mau
Forest Complex in the Rift Valley region.
Since last year, Korir said he has actively involved in
keeping guard of the Nessuit Forest and informing KFS officers
of illegal activities such as felling trees without permit and
burning of charcoal.
Together with other members of the CFA, they have also
replenished the forest with indigenous trees.
Korir said they have also set up nurseries nurturing
indigenous trees to maintain a consistent supply of seedlings
for reforestation activities.
Korir’s efforts are a positive response to Kenya’s
constitution, which provides for engagement of communities in
management and conservation of forest through registered
community forest associations.
He said their sensitization drives on sustainable utilization
of the natural resources have yielded fruits since people have
become more cautious of participating in destructive activities.
"We have noted a change of attitude towards the forest among
people living adjacent to the forest.
"The pace of cutting trees has reduced," he said.
So far, their work has attracted support from some
development partners and well-wishers who have enhanced their
conservation skills and broadened their knowledge on management
of natural resources, Korir said.
"We know the importance of conserving the forest.
"That’s why we sacrifice our time to protect it.
"We work closely with KFS guards.
"Whenever we notice any questionable activity within the
forest, we quickly notify them," he added.
The country is looking forward to accomplishing a 10-percent
forest cover by 2030 with community participation counted as a
key strategy to speed up realization of the target.
By 2010, the forest cover stood at 6.99 percent, according to
the 2016-2030 forest strategic framework by Ministry of
Environment and Natural Resources.
In the National Forest Programme, the ministry predicts an
increase in wood deficit from the current 10 million cubic
meters to 15 million cubic meters per year by 2030.
At least 80 percent of the households in Kenya depend on wood
for cooking and lighting.
"We (community) use firewood to cook and so we know why we
need to increase the number of trees in the forest," said
Kiplangat, another member of the Ogiek Community Forest
Association and a volunteer scout.
Kiplangat said he monitors Logoman Forest, one of the blocks
of the Mau Forest Complex.
The 400,000-hectare Mau Forest Complex spans across five
counties in the Rift Valley region including Nakuru, Narok,
Baringo, Kericho and Baringo.
"We always have to inform people how illegal it is to destroy
the forest and the penalties involved," said Kiplangat.
"I have made a commitment to protect the forest. I am always
on the lookout and the first to let the KFS guards know of
what’s going in the forest," he added.
Kiplangat, however, said communities need to be empowered to
escape from poverty and be able to shift to clean sources of
He said extreme lack of basic needs in homes forces people to
exploit forest resources to earn an income.
The environment ministry through KFS intends to rehabilitate
5.1 hectares of degraded forest land, a process involving
engagement of communities in deterring indiscriminate harvesting
According to KFS forester Joseph King’ori, participation of
communities in conservation of forests has greatly contributed
to achieving a 10-percent forest cover.