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Participatory forest management experts have developed a draft guide lines on equitable benefit sharing mechanism of forest resources during a workshop at KEFRI- Kitui between 7th and 11th December 2020. The workshop was organized by KEFRI and sponsored by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) brought together representatives from KEFRI, FAO, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), National Alliance of Community Forest Association (NACOFA), Muguga Ecosystem Research Community Forest Association (MERCFA), Arabuko Sokoke Forest Adjacent Dwellers Association (ASFADA), and Museve-Kavonge (MUSEKAVO) Community Forest Association
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Mr. Keriako Tobiko officially opened the Centre on 18th October 2019. The CS also led a tree planting drive that saw over 12,000 seedlings planted in four schools (Sasenyi, Buguta, Kombolio, Njukini) and Mchungunyi forest as consolidated effort to increase the County’s forest cover to 10 percent from current 3.6 percent. The event was also graced by the presence of Principal Secretary Ms. Betty Maina, Deputy County Governor, Majala Mlagui, immediate former Governor, Eng. John Mruttu, Chairman of Kenya Water Towers Agency Former Kitui Governor Dr. Julius Malombe, Former Minister Major (Rtd) Hon. Marsden Madoka, Deputy County Commissioner, Damaris Kimondo, among other distinguished leaders.
KEFRI staff from Coast Eco-region and Forest Products Development jointly exhibited various products and services as a side event, and donated 1800 seedlings to the community totaling over 24,000 assorted tree seedlings planted during the short rains.
CS, Keriako Tobiko urged KEFRI and KFS staff to mobilize resources, establish tree nurseries with the communities for production of quality seedlings, rehabilitating the Taita hills and forest which have experienced constant forest fires and illegal livestock grazing. In his opening remarks, the Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests at Kenya Forest Service - Mr. Daniel Mbithi, noted that though forest conservation and management Act 2016 article 71 provides for benefit sharing of forest resources, there lacks a policy guiding on the equitable sharing of these resources.
“The participatory forest management is a deliberate approach that involves the forest adjacent communities and other stakeholders in management of forests within a framework that safeguards the environment and contributes to community’s livelihoods, however the process has encountered several challenges,” Mbithi said.
KEFRI’s Deputy Director of Forest Service Support Programme Dr. Titus Mbuvi stated that lack of an equitable benefit sharing mechanism of forest resources has crippled implementation of PFM increasing poverty among forest adjacent communities.
The FAO project coordinator Dr. Meshack Muga thanked KEFRI for championing participatory forest management in Kenya. However Dr. Muga stated that PFM will only succeeded when incentives and benefit are spelt out correctively and all stakeholders are included in the management.
“FAO is ready to support KEFRI and other stakeholders to develop policy on forest resource sharing which is crucial in the fruitful implementation of participatory forest management process,” said Dr. Muga
In his closing remarks, Dr. Paul Ongugo - a principal scientist at KEFRI who lead the group through the development of draft regulation thanked the team for their devotion in assessing documents, and identification of activities and roles, the opportunities and challenges that the stakeholders including CFAs face in the course of implementing PFM.
“Developing an equitable benefit sharing document involving products and services is quite challenging but following Kenya constitution 2010, FCMA 2016, and others guidelines, we have crafted a roadmap to be subjected to public participation among other steps before approval by the Cabinet,” said Dr. Ongugo.