As part of a move to boost cooperation on forest conservation and sustainable landscape management, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has visited the South West Mau Forest together with IDH and the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) Kenya partners.
KFS Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Julius Kamau and his team observed progress made by ISLA Kenya in reducing illegal activities in the landscape, including livestock grazing, logging and charcoal burning, as well as the challenges that remain.
They also took part in tree planting sessions and discussions on conservation with local communities.
The CCF discussed progress made in building up the ISLA partnership, including engaging the community in alternative non-forest dependent livelihoods, rehabilitating the forest through tree planting, and reducing illegal activities.
He especially noted the joint surveillance flights and related work by his officers, as part of the partnership, to monitor and address these activities, leading to reduction in charcoal burning and logging.
The next steps for ISLA Kenya/ KFS cooperation will include:
- Engaging in policy discussions on the approval of the proposed game-proof barrier along the northeast part of the landscape to reduce human-wildlife conflict;
- Addressing illegal livestock grazing in the forest;
- Restarting maintenance of the established tea buffer that will provide jobs to local communities and reduce their motivation to go into forest for their livelihoods;
- Developing and implementing joint forest conservation plans under a collaborative framework;
- Improving law enforcement based on a multi-agency approach.
Julius Kamau said:
“We alone cannot do everything as KFS. The ISLA program has brought together the private sector, government, farmers and communities to conserve and sustainably manage the environment and enhance livelihoods. We must be able to enhance and scale up this work. I believe if people sit down with good will and mutual trust, there is nothing we can’t achieve together.”
Winnie Mwaniki, a Senior Program Manager at IDH, who leads the Landscape Program in Kenya, said:
“The Kenya Forest Service is a crucial partner of the ISLA Kenya coalition considering their mandate to conserve, protect and manage all public forests in accordance with the provisions of the Forest Act. Since the inception of ISLA, we have collaborated with KFS and other partners resulting in the great progress made so far. Given the outstanding challenges, we are excited about the new leadership approach to embrace and nurture partnerships like ISLA to support KFS’s core mandate of forest conservation. This is underpinned by the CCF’s commitment to and appreciation of the key role of public-private partnerships in co-managing forests.”
In a joint, public, private and community effort, the ISLA Kenya program aims to protect and conserve 60,000 hectares of South West Mau Forest by 2030 through innovative and sustainable solutions to deforestation.