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2.5 Community Based Natural Resource Management

  1. There has been a growing recognition in recent years that conservation will not succeed unless there is a recognition of the importance of natural resources for poor people who traditionally have been dependent upon them, and that they must play a role in management and use of such resources. Addressing local communities’ resource rights, strengthening the capacity to manage natural resources at local levels, and encouraging and catalyzing the profitable use of resources provide powerful incentives for democratic processes, institution building, and resource sustainability. The rationale is that poor rural communities will have a vested interest in sound management of the resources upon which they depend for survival. With that, conservation and maintenance of healthy ecosystems will follow.

  2. Forest conservation does not only generate pure benefits for local communities; they also bear large and significant costs. Although it is KFS who must cover direct forest management costs, this only represents a small proportion of the total costs of conserving forests. Forest dwelling wild animals, especially elephants, buffaloes, birds and monkeys, regularly cause damage to trees and crops grown in the forest-adjacent area and in forest based smallholdings (Njuguna and Muriithi 1995, Ochieng 1993).46 It is estimated that wild animal damage to crops may occur to a total cost of USD 1 million a year on up to 1,500 ha of farms for directly forest-adjacent dwellers.47

  3. There is also a local opportunity cost to forest conservation. Although local populations can gain high tangible economic benefits from forest conservation through the continued utilisation of forest resources for household income and subsistence, they also face significant costs while the area remains under forest through damage to agricultural livelihoods and alternative uses of forest land foregone such as hunting, grazing and as a source of building materials.

  4. With regard to the sections of the community that bear the greatest costs, poorer members48 of the community are likely to bear a disproportionately higher burden of the costs of conservation. Community-based forms of management provide a means of setting in place the economic conditions and incentive structures which will meet both community livelihood and forest conservation goals. As a means of community ownership, Joint Forest Management (JFM) allows communities to sign joint forest management agreements with government and other forest owners. JFM is applicable where there is a pre-existing local or central government forest reserve. In this instance the forest adjacent communities enter into a Joint Management Agreement with the appropriate reservation authority to share management responsibility and benefits accruing.

  5. Community based tourism (CBT) offer many opportunities when it comes to entering the mainstream tourism market. According to Ecotourism Kenya (EK)49 most of the CBT businesses comprise a range of activities, products and services including tour guiding, sale of crafts and souvenir items, sight-seeing, boat rides, forest excursions, nature trails, cultural activities and accommodation. However, there is lack of market information and commercial orientation in their activities and communities need more support in marketing products.

2.5.1Community Conservation and Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)

  1. “Ecosystem services” means the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food, water, timber and fibre; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis and nutrient cycling.50

  2. Government funds are limited in Kenya.51 Thus forest conservation competes for scarce land, money and other resources with other land uses and investment opportunities at local and national levels. An essential economic rationale for conserving forests is that they provide a stream of goods and services which generate economic benefits and support economic activities which accrue to the global community, the Kenyan economy and the livelihoods of the people who live around the forest.

  3. PES is expected to open up the wider understanding that work by communities in preserving forests and watersheds and other environmental assets renders benefits both to them and to a large extent to other beneficiaries downstream in the watershed or at a national level and even at a global level. The Draft Forest Policy 2007 has recognized this and clearly stipulates that users of benefits derived from forests contribute to their conservation and management through the user pay principle.52

  4. PES is also likely to be financed under global climate amelioration funds such as REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) although more research is required in this growing sector.

  5. PES schemes in the Eastern Montane hotspot are not as yet established. However there are efforts by the government and the private sector to pay for these services in an indirect way. A few efforts exist such as accommodation facilities e.g. Rondo Retreat in Kakamega as a way of incorporating PES and corporate social responsibility assists communities around Kakamega forest in various income generating projects, so as to reduce encroachment into the forest. Some tea estates are assisting in PA protection as a way of paying for ecosystem services by assisting in international certification for tea growing farmers in order to benefit from global climate amelioration funding such as through fair trade and forest certification schemes. However, research is required on ascertaining whether PES is an effective means of engaging community support and involvement in forest conservation.
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