Stop, think, participate!
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CTA. 2002. Stop, think, participate!. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57340
A co-ordinator of the Kenya Forests Working Group describes how it has been working with local forest management committees, to set up forest use agreements and educate communities in improved forest management methods.
Stop, think, participate! CUE: In Kenya, forests are the property of the government and local communities have no legal basis to manage them. As a result, forest conservation organisations have found it very difficult to persuade local people of the need to preserve the forests for the long term. Since they do not own the forests, few are concerned about managing them sustainably, with the result that the area of forest cover in the country is now very small. There are, however, many organisations that are working to raise public awareness about the issue. Many of these have combined their efforts under the Kenya Forest Working Group, and together with local people are now developing community-based management plans. The Group is also campaigning hard for a new bill, under which local communities will share in responsibility for forest management. Enoch Kanyanya, a technical co-ordinator of the Group, spoke to Eric Kadenge about the work they have been doing with rural people, their challenges and achievements. IN: ?We work with local communities ? OUT: ? conserve what we have. DUR?N 4?50? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Enoch Kanyanya asking fellow Kenyans to help restore the countries lost forests. Transcript Kanyanya We work with local communities, when it comes to preparation of community-based forest management plans. Currently we are preparing one for Eburu Forest. Kadenge So in Eburu, what are some of the ways through which you are helping these farmers to ensure that they utilise this forest, and at the same time do not destroy it? For example, getting firewood. How is this done so that the forest is not destroyed? Kanyanya Well there is a community forestry management committee. This committee advises the local people on how they can still collect firewood, without destroying the forest. And therefore there are some local agreements, that once one goes to the forest to collect firewood, he should only collect dead wood, so that they leave the growing trees to continue, and in that way we are able to maintain the forest. And also harvesting of medicines, we are trying to educate the community so that we use methods that are non-destructive. Another major use that is destructive to the forest is charcoal, and the community around has actually banned the removal of charcoal from the forest. Kadenge What measures have you put in place, let?s say in the form of punishment for those people who do not adhere to the agreed ways of using the forest? Kanyanya It?s not us that put the conditions, but those are done by the community themselves. When they meet they agree on what they will be doing to safeguard the forest, as well as use the forest. In that agreement they put penalties, and say ?We?ll ban you from collecting firewood? or something like that. Kadenge What are some of the challenges that you get to face as you go about trying to sustain our forests? Kanyanya As you may be aware, the current Forest Act does not allow participation of the local community in forest management, but there is a bill that has been formed and has yet to be taken to Parliament, that allows the community to participate in forest management. So one of the challenges, I would say, is that we are doing this but we are not backed by law, and we are trying to see to it that the Parliament debate the bill, the Forestry Bill 2000, so that the communities are allowed to participate in the conservation of the forest, so that they are able to determine their future of forest conservation in Kenya. Kadenge Any other challenges? Kanyanya There are also other challenges, like, say, the community we are working with. It would be better off if the awareness was high, but it is still low, and we are struggling to make sure that every individual living around the forest is aware of the consequences of, say, setting fire in the dry season, or misusing the forest, over-grazing in the forest, or such like things. Kadenge Other than the challenges and the negative side of the story, do you have any pointers of success in your activities? Kanyanya You realise that forestry issues in Kenya are taking centre-stage. And we believe this is out of improved awareness. This is a step forward. And also there are a number of applications to the forest department, that communities living around the forest, want now to participate in the conservation of the forest. This is something that never used to be there. Now despite the fact that there is no law protecting them or supporting them to manage the forest, we can see there are many, many applications from all over the country to the forest department, that they want to participate in the conservation of the forest, and this is I think, a step forward as far as we are concerned. Kadenge Now if you were to tell someone listening to you right now, one thing about sustainable management of forest resources, what would that be? Kanyanya I would want that every Kenyan stops to think about forestry issues, and we should increase our little forest cover, which is just 1.7% as opposed to the required 10% of country cover. I would urge that all Kenyans participate, first in planting so that we can increase the forest cover in the country, and increase the resources that we get from the forests, and also conserve what we have. End of track.
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