The Government through Kenya Forest Services (KFS) has embarked in the restoration of the Mau ecosystem which was affected by encroachment by human activities.
The Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr Julius Kamau, said that through participatory forest management plans, communities partner with KFS to restore and rehabilitate the depleted forests countrywide.
“At the moment, the KFS is managing up to 2.5 million hectares of forests across the country while at the same time supporting counties through technical and capacity building to put up another 1.7 million hectares of plantation forests,” he said.
Speaking in Bomet while signing Chepalungu Forest Management Plan, Dr Kamau stated that Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has so far signed 112 agreements out of the 165 forest management plans with various Community Forest Associations across the Country aimed at conserving forests.
He said that Chepalungu Forest was part of the larger Mau ecosystem complex which is the major source of water catchment for East Africa and the Nile Basin in North Africa.
Dr Kamau said the agreement between KFS and the Communities was a legal instrument that will provide a roadmap on how all the government managed forests are protected and managed against exploitation.
He said the corporation was employing new approaches of conserving forests, nothing without good relations with local communities; such efforts would go futile hence the need to adopt the initiatives.
“We don’t own these forests but we actually protect them for communities which is a heritage to be handed over from one generation to another since some forests are cultural where people go to worship at the shrines,” he said.
Dr Kamau said that the Forest Act of 2016 provided room for KFS to work closely with communities and in the plantation zones Shamba system where the people living in the neighborhood of the forest conserve by growing crops and nature trees at the same time.
He stated that the destruction of many forest in the country was due a shortage of forest rangers whose role is protection and management of forests but now with the new policy in place communities protect their forest,
“With the limited number of forest rangers currently being experienced, there was a need to engage the communities noting the ‘fence’ to protect the forests are the locals,” he said.
On trans-boundary forests the Conservator said KFS was working with County Governments to addressed modalities on conservation and use of the forest resources without conflict
He cited Bomet which he said has a bigger share of the resource but being managed from Narok hence the need to develop a framework so that it can address such issues.
The signing of the pact was witnessed by Bomet County Government officials led by acting County Secretary on behalf of Governor Hillary Barchok, Ministry of Interior Representative, Chairman Chepalungu Community Forest Association, Mr Joseph Towett and Bomet EcAoosysm Conservator, Mrs Ann Nyaoke.
By Joseph Obwocha