by Robert Manyara
NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Fredlick Lesingo, a
community mobilizer who lives near Kiptunga Forest Station which
is part of the larger Mau Forest, knows too well why it is
critical to protect it from destruction.
Lesingo is a
member of the Kiptunga Community Forest Association that is
legally recognized by Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the state
agency overseeing management of forests in the East African
He is also one of the ten community volunteer scouts working
with KFS rangers to control and prevent illegal activities in
the forest including illegal felling of indigenous trees for
firewood, charcoal and timber.
"We have already felt the effects of destroying the forests.
"We are almost in May and we are just planting because the
"Even the swamps where cows and sheep would drink water has
dried up," Lesingo told Xinhua during a recent interview near
His daily routine involves surveying forest blocks to check
whether there is any destruction that could be reported to KFS
The government in February 2018 imposed a moratorium on
logging in all forests as a measure to protect the five water
towers and minimize presence of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere as trees serve as carbon reservoirs.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO) in its 2018 State of the World’s Forests report,
emphasized the need to protect forests stating that they play
critical role in food security, drinking water, renewable energy
and rural economies.
"They provide around 20 percent of income for rural
households in developing countries - notably more in many areas
- and fuel for cooking and heating for one in every three people
around the world," said FAO report.
Lesingo said without the forest, grass would be unavailable
for livestock and the scenario could be detrimental to household
More than 30 years ago, Kiptunga Forest was compact with
indigenous trees but they have been cleared to pave way for
human settlements and agricultural activities, according to the
Joseph Lesingo, chairman of Kiptunga Community Forest
Association, said without engagement of communities living
adjacent to the forests, loss of biodiversity would be
"These communities are major stakeholders in management of
forests since they enjoy immediate benefits of the forest
"They cannot allow any activity causing degradation of the
ecosystem," said Lesingo.
Members of the Kiptunga Community Forest Association take
part in restoration activities including planting of trees where
they have been either legally or illegally harvested or
protecting young trees while cropping in allocated portions of
land under plantation establishment scheme run by KFS.
Lesingo said the community and the scouts have been
influential in educating the locals on rehabilitating the
environment through practicing afforestation, reforestation,
adoption of clean energies and exploiting available natural
resources in an organized manner.
Akudunyang’ Bento, KFS Mau Conservancy Regional Commandant
said deforestation is a driver of climate change which affects
availability of essential resources key to survival of rural
Inter-communal skirmishes are bound to arise due to
competition for the limited resources, said Bento.
"There would be even worse effects of climate change in days
to come if efforts are not made to curb deforestation," he
He lauded the community’s involvement in managing Kiptunga
Forest adding that such initiatives are central to propelling
Kenya’s agenda of mitigating effects of climate change.
As indicated in the Nationally Determined Contribution
document Kenya submitted in 2016 as an instrument for Paris
Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change, the leadership envisions cutting down emissions
of greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2030 with protection of
forests key to attainment of that target.