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Mau Forest communities, KFS partner to protect forest land

Communities living adjacent to the Mau Forest Complex in Narok and Bomet Counties have signed a five-year agreement with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) that will enable them to sustainably manage the forest as they benefit from its resources.

Four Community Forest Associations (CFA), namely Nyangores, Olenguruone, Olpusimoru, and Nairotia, signed a Participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) for 2023–2027 that will help them participate in sustainably conserving the mega water towers.

The function was led by Deputy Chief Conservator Beatrice Mbula, who said the management structures provide a legal platform to allow the community living near the forest land to benefit from the forest as they conserve it.

World Wide Fund for Nature Program Manager Kevin Gichagi give his address during the signing of Participatory Forest Management Plan 2023-2027 for four Community Forest Association (CFA). Photo by Ann Salaton

She thanked the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for working in partnership with KFS and the community to develop the plan that will run from 2023 to 2027.

“We will give all the support needed to the CFA so that they can protect and benefit from the forest. If we walk alone, we will not go far, but if we walk with you, we will go far,” said the Deputy Chief Conservator.

In the past, she said, the Mau Forest has suffered from degradation as a result of encroachment and illegal extraction of forest resources, hence the need for participatory forest management to ensure that forests are rehabilitated and sustainably managed in the long run.

At the same time, she called on individuals and institutions to take advantage of the ongoing grains to set up tree seedbeds, saying about 225, 000 tree seedlings have been planted in Narok County this week.

“KFS gave only 30, 000 seedlings for planting during the National Trees Planting Holiday; the other number was sourced from private tree nurseries. This means organisations that have ready-made nurseries are earning a huge profit,” she reiterated.

WWF Project Manager Kevin Gichagi said his organisation facilitated the development of PFMP for each of the four CFAs to enable co-management of forest resources between the forest adjacent community and KFS.

He said WWF will continue to participate in facilitating the implementation of the signed plans to sustainably manage the forest and provide sustainable livelihoods for the adjacent forest communities.

Rift Valley Region Deputy Ecosystem Conservator Humphrey Okumu called on the Maa community to plant trees on their big chunk of land during this rainy season.

He revealed that 275 people had been arrested in the last year for being found illegally in the Maasai Mau Forest, adding that the government is very serious about conserving the mega-water catchment land.

Assistant County Commissioner in the Bomet County Commissioner’s office, Ms. Rehema Kitito, said the KFS rangers employed by the government recently have helped in protecting the forest from destruction.

She reiterated that her office will continue working with the relevant stakeholders to protect the forests by ensuring the enforcement of the law.

The function was held at Masese Forest Station and attended by Narok Ecosystem Conservator Daniel Mkung, Singorwet Member of County Assembly Josphat Kipkirui, and members of the public.

Maasai Mau Forest is about 46, 000 hectares and extends to Bomet and Nakuru counties, but is managed by the Narok Forest Office.

By Ann Salaton

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