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3.2Root Cause Analysis

  1. An analysis of the root causes of biodiversity loss for the Montane forests of Western Kenya has identified factors operating at several levels, from the local level to national and international levels. These are among the more important factors driving the direct threats outlined above.

  2. These root causes stem from a combination of many factors, including an inadequate and unharmonized legislative framework, absence/inadequacy of management plans and bio-regional scale conservation strategies, uncoordinated land development planning and a financial and human resource deficit for effective mitigation activities on the part of different parties including central and local governments and communities.

3.2.1Local level Causes:

  1. A main cause for the lack of effectiveness of the current PA system for the Montane Forests is rooted in the reality that local communities lack basic skills and knowledge in participatory forest management. Local communities are unaware of their roles and responsibilities provided for in the policies and legislation. Further, there is low confidence or sense of ownership among some communities that they can implement projects or influence decisions at district level. In addition, local communities lack basic skills to undertake successful nature based enterprises, such as establishment of tree nurseries, tree farming as a business, beekeeping, ecotourism, charcoal production, and extraction of medicinal plants. These nature based enterprises can potentially improve the livelihoods of the local communities, thus help reduce pressure on forestry resources. Against rising poverty and resources scarcity, there is evidence of negative attitude towards protected areas as local communities seek to access forestry resources.

  2. There is currently an absence of appropriate institutions/structures at community level to coordinate the use of natural resources and stimulate site-based conservation as well as manage PAs efficiently. This is linked to inadequate awareness and knowledge on policies and regulations regarding conservation.

3.2.2National level Causes:

  1. One root cause for the threats described above is an undervaluation of the natural resource base both within and outside PAs, combined with the failure to accommodate the externalities of threats as part of a total accounting framework in the business case for financial investment. The immediate cost-benefit calculation of land use responsible for threats are often more favourable than conservation compatible land use, which tends to generate diffuse long term returns.

  2. Specifically on the national level there is a lack of baseline information on protected areas, weak research and lack of data base on protected areas; lack of participatory forest management plans; weak technological base on natural resources management - charcoal production, honey processing; human - wildlife conflicts; human – human conflicts (upstream and downstream communities, competing interests among stakeholders, stiff competition among CBOs; and weak monitoring and evaluation.

  3. A key root cause is the reality that National conservation paradigms are based primarily on formal large Protected Areas. There is a corresponding lack of a clear or accepted mechanism to conserve small biodiversity sites and an associated history of a limited will of GoK staff to engage with communities in resource management and related attitudinal rigidity.

  4. Weaknesses in the implementation of individual policies and legislation including inadequate enforcement, overlapping mandates, lack of coordination and conflicts are another root cause. The lack of clearly defined PA boundaries is a root cause of both conflict and lack of agreed management practices for specific areas.

3.3Solutions to Threats and Root Causes

  1. The long-term solution to address the pressures described above is to strengthen the PA system so that it serves as a shield against human-induced pressures on forest biodiversity. Despite the increasing populations and consequent land-use pressures evident in the area, it is still possible to upgrade critical Forest Reserves from production forests to conservation areas, and to elevate management within these areas.

  2. The following measures need to be undertaken to conserve a representative sample of biodiversity in the PA estate: upgrading the status of priority areas from Forest Reserve to National Reserve, changing the management objective of priority Forest Reserves from production use to conservation and designating these areas as Nature Reserves managed by the Kenya Forest Service ; the incorporation of unprotected forest blocks into the PA system as new Forest Reserves; and integrated management of forest landscapes by managing land uses within and adjacent to PAs so as to ensure their compatibility with biodiversity conservation objectives.

3.3.1Expanded and Rationalized PA Estate Management

  1. The western forests are one of Kenya’s “Water Towers”, the Mau drains into the Mara River southwards, into the Rift Valley and Lake Nakuru NP to the east, through the tea estates of Kericho and to Lake Victoria in the west. The Cherangani hills drain into Lake Victoria and River Turkwell. The private sector has expressed considerable interest in maintaining forest cover in these areas for both water and climate regulation purposes. Opportunities also exist to develop tourism potential in the area. The development of Payments for Ecosystem Services and the tourism sector could provide a means of financing an expanded PA system. A business case for PA expansion and management needs to be made, and policies, regulations and institutions need to be strengthened to tap into these opportunities, and secure needed investment.

  2. Through a participatory process that supports policy enhancement on one level and public and private sector process on the other, a solution for an expanded and enhanced protected area estate, incorporating small patches and large expanses of forest is possible. At the heart of a successful approach will be the development of an increased level of protected areas in terms of actual coverage that is managed through joined up policies at a governmental level and systematic, holistic conservation management planning. Management planning needs to be engaged, responsive and ultimately adaptive to a changing environment. However, management capacities, underpinned by sound planning, must be adequate enough and responsive enough to ensure further degradation and deforestation practices beyond agreed limits becomes highly difficult and that the PA systems themselves are safeguarded by an enhanced protected area status.

3.3.2Community Engagement and Management in Forest Conservation:

  1. Many smaller forest patches with high conservation value are not amenable to the creation of traditional State-administered Protected Areas. These areas often have resident local communities, and land alienation to establish State PAs would not be politically tenable. Moreover, local communities have tended to be excluded from PA management. As a consequence, their livelihood needs are often ignored, causing them to perceive that PAs generate few benefits but impose high costs. The government has recently established policies and legislation (Environmental Management & Coordination Act 1999, Forest Act 2005, Kenya Wildlife Service Strategic Plan 2005-2010) to provide for the establishment of Community Conservation Areas (CCAs) with the intention that such areas be managed by communities and, where feasible, the private sector (i.e. Land Trusts), with the support of government.

  2. This process will allow the PA estate to be expanded onto State and non-State Land as needed and enhance its bio-geographical representation while also providing a mechanism for managing the forest edge--- thus ensuring that effective buffers are created around PAs. While policies to do this are codified in national legislation, the mechanisms to operationalize and test the policy are still needed, as are experiences by which to inform its wider constituency. At the national level there is still a prevailing attitudinal rigidity towards conservation approaches involving local communities. There is also little understanding of the importance of small areas in conserving Kenya's forest biodiversity. Existing legislation is poorly understood by government officials on-the-ground and by local communities, leading to inconsistent implementation. Trust between communities, locally-powerful resource users and government is limited and needs to be improved.

  3. Establishment of Site Support Groups (SSG) that will champion site conservation and help manage areas on a community level will be a crucial step forward, to which Western Kenya can draw upon the successes in Group Ranches and Conservancies in other parts of Kenya, particularly Laikipia District with community conservancies and in Nature Kenya’s work in Arabuko Sokoke. Training of members in conservation management will be a crucial aspect of this work as will the development of site co-management plans in participatory manner and training of local GoK staff and community members in co-management practices.

  4. It will be of considerable importance to increase capacity of SSGs in basic organisational skills and in fundraising/ marketing ability as well as to identify and develop incentives for conservation at each site. The establishment of natural resource-based enterprises for SSG financial sustainability is a key aspect of a successful approach as is the importance of establishing and training site monitoring teams at each site in order to create baselines on biodiversity status and to regularly monitor and report on change in biodiversity, incorporated into revised management plans and documented best practices. These may be used to advocate and promote successes and lessons at national and local levels for expansion of the CCA/SSG approach.

3.3.3Operational Capacity for PA Management:

  1. It is not sufficient alone to support policy engagement and community based natural resources management of forest resources alone when the operational capacity, both from a national and a local perspective is inadequate. Solutions for improved operational capacity are largely based on practical interventions that are supported by sound policy. Protected Areas must be managed to generate effective global and national and local environmental benefits, by agencies with functional capacity.

  2. These solutions include the provision of improved staffing and equipment through better, and regular training and proper management of enhanced tools that support PA operations. With such training and tools, proper deployment of staff with appropriate equipment can be used to both address threats and underlying root causes. With the additional support of management and administration systems, staff can be utilised to not only manage effectively but to monitor changes over time as well as to coordinate with the private sector, government departments and, crucially, local communities. Lessons learned from developing operational capacities can be applied to other protected areas.
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