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3.4Barriers to the Conservation of Biodiversity

  1. Kenya has made substantial strides in securing PAs and enhancing PA management for biodiversity conservation, achieving 10% coverage of land surface within its PA system. The KWS has been proactive in its efforts to secure additional resources to improve PA management. However, the baseline is characterised by sub-optimal levels of management stemming from a number of barriers to sound PA administration.

  2. A number of barriers that are impeding the attainment of solutions have been identified through an interactive, participatory process involving a wide range of stakeholders. The problem analysis was undertaken by preparing a literature review, and through stakeholder interviews, inputs from experts, and a series of national stakeholder workshops held over the past few years. Various sets of barriers are currently impeding efforts to reduce the threats facing Montane Forests and to realize the normative solutions required to protect their biodiversity. These are as described as follows, by relevant component.

3.4.1Expanded and Rationalized PA Estate Management

  1. There has been no comprehensive overview of PA gaps in the past decade. A systematic plan for establishing and managing PAs to conserve biodiversity patterns and processes has never been developed. Forest areas thus generally consist of a mosaic of land under different management categories, managed without an overarching conservation plan. Specific problems include: (a) Limited oversight by conservation authorities of forest Protected Areas, with little active management planning, management coordination between agencies and districts, and biodiversity monitoring. NEMA and Ministry of Environment have a coordination role over biodiversity conservation, given sanction through EMCA. Institutional coordination between the two PA agencies (KWS and KFS) is accommodated through a MoU that allows for joint management of some selected areas – i.e. Kakamega Forest. This MoU has lapsed but is subject to being revived. In practice, activities are poorly coordinated and there is a need to better align the mandates and activities of these institutions at landscape level ; (b) Over 70% of the area under Forest Reserves was managed for production before the past logging ban, rather than conservation.

  2. While some areas are designated as Nature Reserves to be managed for conservation, there are no formal regulations, management procedures or oversight mechanisms to ensure they are achieving biodiversity conservation objectives; (c) Policy frameworks governing PA management are often in-compatible with those governing local area development; the impacts of the latter on conservation values are not being accommodated in the cost-benefit assessments that underpin decision making; and (d) There is limited business planning to tap into economic opportunities (i.e. tourism) outside the traditional wildlife areas.

  3. Currently, national conservation paradigms based primarily on formal large PAs and there is a lack of a clear or accepted mechanism to conserve small biodiversity sites despite the fact that much of Kenya's globally significant biodiversity lies outside the existing PA system.

  4. There are weaknesses in the implementation of individual policies and legislation including inadequate enforcement, overlapping mandates, lack of coordination and conflicts and although policy and national-level legislation for site-based conservation is in place (e.g. EMCA, Forest Act), there is often inadequate or inappropriate local legislation to allow for local control of natural resource utilization

  5. There is a lack of baseline data on conservation status of important biodiversity and existing monitoring protocols are difficult to use. Detection of change in conservation attributes are inadequate or come too late to inform adaptive management decisions. There is no mechanism for getting monitoring results incorporated in revised management plans and little awareness at national level of value and importance of many biodiversity sites outside existing PAs. Indeed, the national mechanism to monitor change in site biodiversity status and coordinate action is inadequate.

3.4.2Community Engagement and Management in Forest Conservation

  1. In terms of community engagement and management of forest resources, there are a number of barriers. These have been discussed in the context of threats and root causes above but are summarised here as to how they may be barriers to the solutions proposed above:

  • Poor knowledge of policies and regulations relating to conservation among local communities

  • Lack of appropriate institutions/ structures at community level to coordinate use of natural resources and no established local structures to co-manage natural resources in western Kenya

  • Lack of acceptable site plans to guide co-management initiatives

  • Lack of confidence or sense of ownership among some communities that they can implement projects or influence decisions

  • Lack of champions at community level to support site-based conservation

  • Weak financial base for local conservation initiatives

  • Limited ability of community members to benefit from natural resource utilization

  • Most of the value of natural resource extraction goes to outsiders rather than community members, thus giving little incentive to conserve

  • Inability of communities to control use of some natural resources by outside exploiters (e.g. businesses)

  • Anthropogenic pressures from within and without PAs.

  • Lack of skills to value natural resources within the PAs

  • Lack of clarity on appropriateness of CCA/SSG approach under differing socio-economic circumstances

  • Advocacy for CCA/SSG approach to conservation insufficient and not well targeted

  • Need for strong national champion of CCA/SSG approach in order to influence senior GoK staff

3.4.3Operational Capacity for PA Management

  1. While KWS is long established, and generally operates at a thorough capacity, the capabilities of the nascent KFS for PA management are more limited. The fragility of present management systems was underscored during post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, when many Forest Reserves were invaded by looters seeking quick revenue from logs and fuel-wood. In contrast the better resourced National Reserves were scarcely touched.

  2. Operational capacity weaknesses exist at all levels from on-ground field staff through to the headquarters level. Typical weaknesses include: unclear mandates for the delivery of PA functions, an inability to match staffing and funding to site-specific needs; weak accountability for performance in the past, and problems with the delegation of authorities to the field. Twenty years of under-funding of the PA system, particularly prior to the establishment of KFS have led to the degradation of PA infrastructure and loss of management skills.

  3. Local-level GoK and District Council staff have little understanding of, or access to, enabling legislation and often have little capacity to implement co-management with communities. Indeed, existing models for site-level conservation by communities in productive landscapes are inadequate and insufficiently tested and there is inadequate awareness and knowledge on policies and regulations regarding conservation;

  4. Despite good legislative intentions envisaged in Forest Act and Water Act, the implementation of the reforms in these sectors have been hampered by lack of resources including personnel and equipment to effectively and efficiently manage the protected areas.

  5. The management of the protected areas is hampered by weak capacity of the various stakeholders. The principles of participatory forest management envisaged in the new Forest Act remains unclear to the various stakeholders including KFS personnel.

  6. Although there are individuals with sound motivation and capacity at management level in most government departments, most of the human resource base is generally weak. From time to time this can result in the ineffective deployment of staff. This problem is compounded by the high mortality and morbidity rates of staff from suspected HIV/AIDS related illnesses.

  7. Most protected areas suffer from lack of basic infrastructure, (especially good roads and communication network) making it difficult to manage protected areas. This has been attributed to poor planning and inadequate financing of protected areas management.
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