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Monday, 8 December 2014

Participatory Forest Management Approach at Work in Rumuruti

By Joshua Koskei
The Rumuruti forest comprised of 15,378 acres of indigenous high altitude forest, located in Laikipia County is a home to amazing wildlife and an important water catchment area. It is also the primary source of income for over 5,000 households.
The forest has rare tree species such as Pencil Cedar Olea Africana podocarpus and the Blue Gum tree. It is inhabited by a large population of elephants, buffalos, hyenas and dick dick among other wild animals. It is surrounded by diverse communities in the six administrative sub-locations of Laikipia West constituency among the ethnicities are Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Turkana and Samburu.
Part of Rumuruti Forest
In recent years, the forest has faced over exploitation due to the high demand for forest products, Wildlife populations have also been reduced significantly due to poaching.
The Forest Act (2005) provides for joint biodiversity conservation and protection of adjacent forest resources by communities and external agencies. It is in this spirit that Rumuruti Forest Association (RFA) was founded under the leadership of Dickson Kamau. The Association was registered in 2008 and acquired a Forest Management Agreement in 2011.
The agreement binds community members with the Government through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and other partners to manage and conserve forest resources using a forest management plan that the Association developed in 2008. It is based on the Participatory Forest Management (PFM) approach.
The activities of RFA include: rehabilitation; joint forest patrols and; livelihood improvement programs. These programs contribute to changing community attitude towards natural resources and uplifting their economic status. The Association also owns a tree nursery that produces at least 80,000 indigenous tree seedlings and around 50,000 exotic species.
To mitigate climate change, the Association is carrying out conservation activities with support from the UNDP GEF SGP. The project activities include bee keeping, charcoal briquettes production and ecotourism aimed at reducing forest wood charcoal demand.
The Association has forged partnerships with KFS, Kenya Wildlife Service and the local administration among other stakeholders. So far over 10 hectares of the forest have been rehabilitated. Additionally, illegal logging has been eliminated through weekly joint patrols. The PFM approach creates a platform for stakeholder participation in conservation of resources.
Joshua Koskei is the Manager at Rumuruti Forest Association. He can be reached through; koskeijk@gmail.com
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