On #EarthDay lets pledge to give back to mother earth more than she has given to us…
According to the National Environment Policy (2012), Kenya’s forest cover is reducing fast due to poor farming methods, for example, clearing forests for crop farming or human settlement, industrial production, charcoal burning and infrastructure development (for example construction of roads). Other challenges include illegal cutting of trees for firewood and grazing livestock in forests. However , large scale loss of forests would lead to reduced agricultural produce, low and unpredictable rainfall and drying up of rivers, low industrial production and serious natural disasters (such as floods and droughts).
Among others, the Government and Public need to:
1. Increase forest and tree cover to atleast 10%.
2. Protect and conserve forests that act as major sources of rivers and water .
3. Support the implementation of the Forests policies and laws.
Community participation in forest conservation and management·
The Forest policy of (2005) promotes the participation of businessmen, communities and other stakeholders in
forest management to conserve rainfall producing areas, create employment and reduce poverty.
Forest User Rights
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) may allow CFAs (Community Forest Association) to:
(a) Collect forest produce
(b) Harvest grass and graze livestock
(c) Tour the forest with an aim to support conservation, observe wildlife and leisure activities
(d) Enter into contracts to carry out maintenance operations (establish tree nurseries, create woodlots, tree planting,
pruning, and harvest mature trees)
(e) Carry out other activities with permission from KFS.
Offences under the Forests Act (2005)
Without a permit or a CFA management agreement given by KFS, nobody shall:
(a) Cut, burn or remove any tree or forest produce
(b) Enter or remain in a forest between of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless allowed to do so
(c) Construct any building or livestock structure except with permission from KFS
(d) Collect any honey or beeswax from a forest
(e) Allow livestock to graze in a forest
(f) Clear, cultivate or cut trees for any other purpose
(g) Construct any road or path through a forest
(h) Set fire to, or burn any grass, trees or plants in a forest
(i) Possess any chain saw or tree-cutting tools inside a forest
(j) Damage or remove any beacon, boundary mark, fence or notice board in a forest
(k) Capture or kill any animal in the forest.
Under the Forest Policy, communities are allowed to farm in the forests to meet their daily needs and generate income from bamboo furniture, firewood, bee keeping and fodder for livestock·
To increase rural community participation in forest management, the Forest the government should:
o Establish community forests through which communities will be able to participate in the conservation and management of forests in their area.
o Protect the traditional interests of local communities who have historically lived within and around a forest for example Ogiek and Kaya shrines.
o Recognize cultural practices that go well together with sustainable forest management for example farm forestry and collection of medicinal plants (miti shamba)
Recommendation to improve the participation of minority groups in forest conservation:
o Training and education opportunities in forestry for youth and women.
o Involving youth and women in forest management;
o Encouraging the youth to take more responsibility in the management of forests to ensure the survival of Kenyans in future.
The Forest Policy supports the creation of forest based micro-enterprises (for example bee keeping, bamboo furniture, sale of miti shamba and wax production).
The Forest Policy appreciates the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs). NGOs can support local self-help efforts aimed at conserving forests; conduct awareness creation for local communities to effectively participate in forest conservation and serve as a link between government bodies and communities living in areas around forests.
The Forest Policy creates the Forest Act (2005). The Act in turn creates the Kenya Forests Service (KFS) which is headed by a Board that includes forest community representatives.
The Forest Act establishes Community Forest Associations (CF As) and gives user rights to local communities to access forest resources. It also provides for registration of CF As under The Societies Act. A registered CFA may apply to the Director of KFS for permission to participate in the conservation and management of public forests.
KFS is allowed to establish forest conservation areas which are managed by Forest Conservation Committees (FCCs). The committees include four persons with knowledge in forestry and who are nominated by Community Forest Associations (CFAs) operating in the conservation area.
The Forest (Charcoal) Regulations of 2009 requires commercial producers of charcoal to organize themselves as business organizations or charcoal producer association for the purpose of ensuring sustainable production of charcoal by its members.
KFS is required to consult local communities while developing Public Forest Management (PFM) plans by seeking their opinions as well as other people who benefit from the forests.
Any licenses to use forest resources is only given by KFS upon satisfaction that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)has been done as required by Environmental Management and Coordination Act-EMCA (1999). The
EIA process allows for public comments.
The Forest Act also establishes a Fund to be used to conserve indigenous forests, promote community-based forests and related activities. Therefore, money generated from forest conservation will be used to improve the lives of communities living around the forest.
Individual land owners can have their forest registered with KFS and in return, receive advice on forest management, receive forest development funds and may not pay land rates among other benefits.
The Forest Act instructs KFS to provide the public with all documents on the use of forest resources (for example, firewood, honey and wax, timber for construction), management plans and agreements with businessmen. This promotes transparency and accountability.
We all can contribute towards safeguarding mother earth and it is never too late to start.
One Earth, One Home!!
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