by Robert Manyara
NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Emerging need to
protect forests from destruction to promote sustainable
environment in Kenya has pushed communities into conservation
activities as they focus on long-term benefits.
Sururu is the chairman of Logoman Forest Station Scouts, which
constitutes of 20 young men from Ogiek community monitoring and
rehabilitating 20 hectares of the Logoman Forest, a sub-station
of the larger Mau Forest Complex, spanning five counties in
Kenya’s Rift Valley region.
"My children will suffer in the future if I don’t take care
of the forest," said Sururu who lives on the fringes of Logoman
forest in Nakuru county.
In the last decade, Mau Forest Complex has attracted local
and international attention due to its exposure to extensive
destruction from illegal harvesting of trees for firewood,
charcoal and timber.
Although there have been relentless efforts from the
government to save the forests, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS),
state entity responsible for protecting forests, still reports
of the existing challenges of degradation.
Review of the forest laws in 2007 brought in a new aspect of
community involvement in conservation activities, which created
an opportunity for raising awareness on necessity of
The new drive, which has given way to the establishment of
the group of community volunteers in the Mau, now called for
"I have seen rivers dry and droughts hit us so badly but I
didn’t know it had a connection to the forest until I received
training on forest conservation," Sururu said.
KFS, together with a community representative organization,
Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program, trained them four months ago
on the significance of forests to mitigation of climate change
and community development.
"We depend on rain to grow crops and if there is none,
everybody will suffer.
"Trees bring rain, prevent soil erosion and keep the air
clean," Sururu said.
KFS allocated the Ogieks the section of the forest to
conserve as part of the process of community participation in
safeguarding the natural resource.
Ogiek is a minority community living within the Mau
ecosystem, and has, for centuries, lived on forest resources,
including wild berries and honey from bees reared on hives
mounted on nectar producing trees.
While the community, through forest associations, takes role
in replenishing the forest with indigenous trees as agreed with
KFS, the scouts working for free.
"It’s challenging to achieve a 10 percent forest cover
without community engagement," Daniel Kobei, executive director
of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program said.
According to him, communities living adjacent to forests must
be actively engaged in conservation activities since their
livelihoods are directly dependent on their existence.
He said communities should not only be educated on benefits
accrued from forest conservation but also be engaged in every
aspect of rehabilitating natural resources, including making
decisions on how to utilize them for efforts to control
He said a lot of work has to be done in creating awareness
among Kenyan communities on relative impact of deforestation on
Sururu said he has started to nurture his children to respect
the environment through tree nurseries and planting trees in his
homestead, a habit which Kobei emphasizes as a strategy towards
creating an environmental-friendly generation.
"It is a good thing to see people willing to protect the
forest for free which is what the scouts are doing.
"That means they know the importance of the forests," said
Joseph King’ori, KFS officer in charge of the Logoman Forest,
says an empowered community is an informed society indispensable
to creating and maintaining sustainable environments.
"We need communities to create a Participatory Management
Plan which will guide on how they engage in conservation of the
forests," he said.
Community land ownership motivates Kenyans to protect
NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s
new law makes it possible for communities laying claim on
ancestral land to acquire title deeds and enjoy right to full
This comes as a blessing to minority communities which have long
struggled to secure legal protection to their inherited land.
Conflicts have often risen over acquisition of land in Kenya
some of whom involve minority communities in different parts of
The Community Land Act which came into effect in August gives
cognizance to ancestral land and bestows power to any community
member to seek for it’s a title deed, the legal document which
shows an individual is the rightful owner of a particular piece
Wilson Kipkazi, executive director of Endorois Welfare Council,
an organization working around issues affecting members of the
minority community of Endorois, said the law would save them the
struggle to own land.
“We have been having problems with land ownership as members
of Endorois community. Getting the title deeds is the best
thing we are looking forward to,” he said.
The community has been creating committees to look into their
land ownership challenges which are yet to be solved of which he
hopes enactment of the law would address to the advantage of the
Actively involving the community at every stage of enforcing the
law would also be welcome to eliminate chances of conflicts in
allocating the land, he said.
“In areas like Muchongoi (in the Rift Valley region) we have
had problems of non-Endorois being allocated land but I
believe proper enforcement of the community land law will
address that problem fully,” he observed.
Absence of legal claim to a land makes it impossible for the
occupant to establish long term investments for fear of future
loss. As such communities remain impoverished for centuries due
to under development.
Kipkazi, however, observes the long strenuous process of
enacting laws in Kenya as a challenge to enjoying benefits of
the law immediately.
“There are other policies that need to be put in place to
operationalize the law and this takes such a long time,” he
Daniel Kobei, the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program, which
advocates for the rights of the Ogiek community, a minority
group which largely inhabits within the Mau ecosystem; says
establishment of the law serves them well in pushing for land
“The only challenge comes in terms of whether the government
is going to implement it as per the law,” he said.
“Some of the Ogiek land is said to be public land and so we
will wait to see if they will be given as community land.”
Under the law, the right of ownership to a community land
enjoyed by an individual or community before the new regulations
came into effect will be upheld.
“No right on community land shall be expropriated or confiscated
except by law on the public interest and in consideration of
payment of just compensation to the person or persons,” reads
Clause 7 (subsection 3) on land ownership and tenure system.
Kobei said they are training the community on how to manage
their community land to benefit them while ensuring they are
protecting the environment appropriately.
He argues that having protected ownership of community land will
motivate the Ogieks to be more proactive in protecting the Mau
The Ogiek live within the Mau Forest ecosystem, areas they refer
to their communal land they inherited from their ancestors.
Mau Forest is a forest complex which covers five counties in the
Rift Valley region. It is the largest water tower in the East
African region and supports the Maasai-Mara ecosystem, the home
of Maasai Mara and Serengeti National Parks, known for the