KSG role in community forest conservationKSG-admin
By Gabriel Odhyambo
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is at an advanced stage in the development of a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) in forest conservation and implementation of the same in their programs.
Chief Conservator of Forests at the KFS, Mr. Julius Kamau, points out that the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 outlines multiple human rights, and forest protection is part of the fulfillment of those rights particularly the right to life, and right to a clean environment.
Mr. Kamau said this as he addressed a multi-agency technical team that was generating training content for the HRBA at the Kenya School of Government Mombasa Campus.
Noting that KFS protects forests and is a driver and enabler of human rights, he urged participants to ensure they build capacity of forest adjacent communities to understand the HRBA.
He expressed his appreciation to development partners in the curriculum development including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for supporting the initiative which targets Kenya Forest Service staff and other forestry sector stakeholders.
The curriculum, which will mainstream HRBA in Forest Conservation, Management and Protection in Kenya, has been developed to promote a human rights centred implementation of the forestry law for ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.
The draft curriculum and manual has been developed by a technical team that comprises the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Kenya Forest Service, and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
Mr. Kamau cherished the complementary role that forest adjacent communities in the Coast region have demonstrated in conserving and protecting forest areas, through which the Community Forest Association (CFA) members have benefited from nature-based enterprises such as bee keeping, fish farming, and establishment of mangrove tree nurseries.
He said that community empowerment through livelihood programs and effective engagement in forest conservation and management reduces their dependency on these critical resources, therefore, the best sustainable intervention towards conservation and protection of mangroves.
Although the threat on mangrove may has significantly reduced, Mr. Kamau said that the fragile ecosystem still needs the intervention and support of other like-minded institutions and organizations.
“Illegal logging for wood fuel and point source water pollution due to poor sanitation in the vulnerable urban settlements situated along the mangrove forests remain the greatest threat,” he revealed.
The Chief Conservator of Forests was particularly impressed with KSG’s contribution in environmental conservation with the School having adopted a site at Mkupe (Port Reitz Creek) in Miritini for mangrove planting and protection.
KSG Mombasa Campus Director Dr. Tom Wanyama assured KFS of School support. Mangrove planting shall be an annual exercise to ensure the site is fully covered.
The mangroves, among other benefits, protect shorelines from the damaging storm and hurricane winds, waves, and floods. They also prevent erosion by stabilizing sediments with their tangled root systems and maintain water quality and clarity, filtering pollutants and trapping sediments originating from the land.
Most importantly, the mangroves provide nesting and breeding habitat for fish and shellfish, migratory birds, and sea turtles. An estimated 80 per cent of the global fish catch relies on mangrove forests either directly or indirectly and, therefore, it remains a very important resource to the Coastal folk where fishing is a key economic activity.