Friday, June 24, 2011

Drylands must not be ‘deserts’ of investment, top UN official urges

“Recently, the ‘First Africa Drylands Week’ ended with a simple, yet new, message: the drylands are areas with great potential for the development and sustainable growth of its populations and nations. We must translate this into reality in economic terms concerning the costs of inaction in relation to the costs and benefits of action in order to convince treasuries that the drylands should no longer be ‘deserts’ of investment,” Mr. Luc Gnacadja, the UN’s top advisor on land degradation, desertification and drought matters said.
“I am certain that the discussions and field trips this week [in Senegal] have clarified much better than I could ever do in words, that the challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought while real, are solvable,” he added.
Mr Gnacadja was speaking in Dakar, Senegal, at the global observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification. At a parallel event, taking place in Madrid, Spain, world football star, Mr Carlos Marchena, was designated a Drylands Ambassador of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The events in Dakar brought together over 100 participants, including scientists, policy-makers and representatives of the international and civil society organizations and community groups, to consider ways to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the forests in the drylands. The Government of Senegal hosted both events, which were organized with the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in cooperation with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
In its joint press release dispatched from the events, the CPF said the First Africa Drylands Week “demonstrated renewed solidarity and unity throughout the Circum-Saharan region. Scientific and operational partnership, based on comprehensive consultation and inclusive approaches and methodologies between the development and cooperation partners, countries and civil society will reinforce governance systems, including sustainable land management, land tenure and secure livelihoods. Under this framework, individual countries, or groups of countries will be able to develop their own initiatives that will together contribute to successful land management, combat effects of climate change, prevent and combat desertification, conserve biodiversity and mitigate the vulnerability of rural and urban societies and ensure food security for the tens of millions of families, across the Sahara and the Sahel.” The CPF’s 27 partners are among the largest international organizations that focus on forest issues.
Slight editing done for time relevance only

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nairobi FCC tours Coast Conservancy

The Nairobi Forest Conservation Committee recently undertook a tour of Coast conservancy to familiarize themselves with ecotourism activities being undertaken within the forests. The team visited Arabuko Sokoke Forest within Malindi and Kilifi Zones and Kaya Kinondo forest in Kwale Zone.
The FCC members observed eco tourism projects such as butterfly farming and Nyari view-point at Arabuko Sokoke, bee keeping and board walks among mangrove forests and cultural sites that are within forests such as Gede ruins and Kaya Kinondo forest. Notably, Community Forest Associations operating within these forests benefit greatly from forest goods and services, particularly ecotourism which attract thousands of visitors annually.
However, it was observed that none of the forests has signed a participatory forest management plan with KFS due to financial challenges in preparing one. According the Head of Conservancy for Nairobi Ms Charity Munyasya, the FCC members will utilize all they learnt to promote eco tourism within forests in Nairobi, for the benefit of communities and forest conservation.
Story and pictures by Anne Kaari

Second Miss Forest Queen Beauty Pageant held

The immediate former Miss Forest Queen Ms Maureen Ng'ang'a poses infront of the contestants for this years crown before she handed over the crown to the new 'Queen'
The second annual Miss Forest queen beauty contest took place on 4th of June at the Red Nova hotel in Kiambu. Twenty year old Martha Mukami a nutrition student at the Kenyatta University was crowned these year’s Miss Forest Queen in the colorful ceremony graced by senior Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officials among other guests.
Speaking later, Ms Mukami said that she was thrilled by the publics’ appreciation and hoped to be be a role model to young girls and promised to work effortlessly in sensitizing the youth on the importance of forest conservation. Mukami whose personal motto is “Confidence can take you where you want to go and make you become what you want to be” will reign as Miss Forest Queen for the next one year during which time she will be involved in forest conservation activities as well as being the KFS ambassador for the same.
The acting Head of Corporate Communications at KFS, Mr. Charles Ngunjiri congratulated Mukami for her win and assured her that KFS was going to offer all necessary support to enable her achieve her mandate as the forest beauty queen for the coming year. He also congratulated other contestants led by the runner ups for participating and putting on a very good show.  

Story and pictures by Mike Muratha

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bigwigs behind Mau trees logging- Narok leaders

Residents of Narok have accused senior government officials of continued destruction of Mau Forest. They also accused the Kenya Police, Administration Police and Kenya Wildlife Service officers of escorting lorries ferrying timber and charcoal from the forest. One of the residents Philip Lemein said ministers and other politicians including MPs were sending their emissaries to destroy the forest.
Speaking in a one-day workshop on media encounter on the Mau Forest and environment, organized by African Woman and Child Features Services held in Narok town, Lemein appealed to the government to involve the community by forming a committee comprising of elders and women to oversee the conservation of Mau and other forests in Narok.
Narok County Council vice chair Agnes Pareiyo said leaders should stop pointing accusing fingers at each other and but instead call for concerted efforts to educate wananchi on the importance of conserving the environment.
She said the county funded the demarcation of boundaries of Mau Forest. She however took issue with senior unnamed politicians of going against the grain by further extending the boundaries to create more land for individuals especially in Enoosupukia in Mau Division.
Another resident, Eunice Marima, attributed the rampant destruction of Mau to bad governance experienced during President Moi's regime. Marima said that the government through allowing the destruction of Mau was bringing poverty to Maasai land and affecting common mwananchi.
An official from African Woman and Child Features Services, Jane Godia, called on the government to honour its pledge on the conservation of one of the biggest forest in the country by first evicting the illegal settlers.

MMUST Hosts International Conference on Tropical Forest Resources

The Assistant Zonal Manager for Kakamega Forest Zone Mrs. Alice Ingutta mans the KFS exhibition stand at the conference

Delegates take part in a session during the conference that took place at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST)

Masinde Muiliro Univesity of Science and Technology (MMUST) hosted an international conference on Tropical Forest Resources at Kakamega that ran from 6th to 9th of June 2011. The conference which was dubbed, Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Climate Change, was primarily to highlight the causes and impacts of deforestation of tropical forests and the role that the local communities and that of the University must play so as to conserve the Kakamega Forest for the future generations.
The conference was used to establish the roles of the Kakamega Forest Study Centre a research department that has been established in the University which would train on Science and Technology in Forest Biodiversity Studies, as well as, designing a comprehensive conservation program that will protect and enhance tropical forest biodiversity assets that are essential to the society and locals within Kakamega Forest.
Mrs. Mercelyne Khalumba, Assistant to the Head of Economics, Planning and Investment Promotion at Kenya Forest Service (KFS), made presentations at the Conference on Design Principles and Auction of Forest User Rights Management of Tropical Rain Forests in Kenya and Auctions of Forest User Rights. In her presentation she said that the shift from state control of forests to participatory forest management had led to the design of principles on auction of user rights for forest products. She added that little was known about the influence of auction of forest user rights to individual households in management and sustainable utilization of forest resources.
The Zonal Manager, Kakamega Forest Zone Mr. Mwai Muraguri also made a presentation on the current status of the Kakamega Forest which falls under the jurisdiction of  KFS, said that the communities living adjacent to the forest had promoted its conservation through the formation of a Community Forest Association (CFA) which was at the forefront of advocating for tree planting while encouraging the sustainable utilization of forest products.

Article and pictures by Ken Gichuki

USAID Keeps Fighting the Good Fight

Innovative community-based tree-planting program makes historic agreement with Kenya Forest Service
Date Published: 
June 10, 2011
USAID witnesses landmark signing

The internationally recommended standard for forest cover is 10 percent of a country’s landmass: Kenya today has less than two percent. 
USAID/Kenya has teamed up with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Clean Air Action Corporation (CAAC)—the founder of the innovative tree-planting program, The International Small Group & Tree Planting Program (TIST)—to help the country restore its forest cover.
On June 6, 2011, USAID/Kenya Mission Director, Erna Kerst, and over 40 TIST members witnessed the signing of a historic agreement between KFS and CAAC. “TIST is a jewel well adapted for Kenya,” said Erna Kerst.
The Memorandum of Understanding will enable local farmers to reforest protected areas of Mt. Kenya, the Mau Complex, and other water towers and get paid for the carbon stored in the trees they grow. “Some of the least empowered farmers—those with small land portions or none at all, especially the youth, were being discriminated by the carbon market. Today changes that… age and land tenure will no longer be a barrier,” said the President of CAAC, Ben Henneke.
“TIST enables farmers to transition from sheer survival to empowerment,” said the KFS Director David Mbugua. Eventually, TIST farmers will receive 70% of the profits on the sale of carbon credits on the global carbon markets.
USAID is supporting TIST in Kenya with $7.5 million over five years. CAAC has invested close to $11 million in developing methods, monitoring technology and pilot projects.
About TIST
The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program empower small groups of subsistence farmers in India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nicaragua, and Honduras to combat the devastating effects of deforestation, poverty and drought.
Using handheld computers and Global Positioning System, trained TIST farmers visit each tree grove and record the location, number, size, and species of live trees. This process effectively tracks the farmers’ progress and results. The data, including pictures, is uploaded onto a central database using cell phones or the Internet, and can be viewed by the public at
TIST is the world’s first community-based tree planting program to receive dual validation and verification from Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCB).
Upon awarding certification, Dr. Joanna Durbin, Director of the CCBA said, “We are excited to see a project - for the first time - move beyond validation of project design to being fully ‘CCB Verified’, demonstrating that the project has actually been implemented following best practices in community engagement and is delivering truly significant benefits for the local communities and the environment.”
Group members choose which types of trees to plant and where, to gain maximum benefit over the long term. They may plant around their homes, on their farms, in their villages, and now, thanks to the new agreement with the KFS, in protected areas to safeguard watersheds.
Farmers say they are excited to join TIST because they can see how their local environmental actions are improving their lives while having a global environmental impact.
Benefits of TIST
As TIST expands to more groups and more areas, it ensures more trees, more biodiversity, more climate change benefit and more income for more people. According to USG research, 40,000 varieties of houseplants form the basis of a US$100 million global trade; most have been derived from a handful of species found in the Kenyan forests.
Other benefits include fruits, nuts, firewood, increased shade, reduced soil erosion, and increases in farm productivity—as well as long-term profits from carbon trading.

KFS foresters undergo paramilitary training

The KFS Director Mr. David Mbugua addressing the officers and members of the public during the passout

The KFS Board Chairman Prof. Richard Musangi (in suit) inspecting the parade during the passout at Londiani Paramilitary College

One of the graduating officers receives an award for good performance from the KFS Board Chairman Prof. Richard Musangi

A total of 197 Kenya Forest Service (KFS) foresters graduated at a beautiful passing out which took place on 27th May 2011 at Kenya Forestry College (KFC) Londiani after a rigorous three month theoretical and practical training. The event was presided over by the Chairman KFS Board of Management Prof. Richard Musangi.
In his speech, Prof. Musangi congratulated the graduating officers for having dedicated themselves and performed diligently during the three month course. He added that the training was the first session for foresters in the Service that was meant to inculcate the appropriate skills, tactics and technologies to bridge the long existing gap between the technical officers and the forest ranger ranks. 
The Chairman urged the graduating group to set the pace for others in the reform process and wisely utilize the acquired skills. He also encouraged the graduates to steer off corrupt practices and serve Kenyans and the Service with diligence giving all and expecting nothing in return.
Professor Musangi expressed his gratitude to the administration of the KFC led by the Principal Prof. Donald Ogweno for the developments in the college terming it a focal partner in forestry sector training by imparting skills that are mandatory for implementation of the Forest Act 2005 and the general development of the forest sector.
Speaking at the same event, the Director KFS Mr. David Mbugua urged the officers to create a good public image so as to enable KFS realize its objectives and goals. The Director urged the graduating officers to uphold ethnical standards throughout their work, by being proactive and doing their work professionally. He also encouraged farmers to partner with KFS in order to achieve the 10% forest cover as required by the new constitution.
According to the KFC Principal Prof. Donald Ogweno, the occasion marked yet another milestone for the college adding that the foresters were the first lot to be fully trained by KFC instructors. He also congratulated the officers for having performed exceptionally well in their training.
The graduating officers later joined their friends and family who had come celebrate the momentous occasion. The foresters have been deployed to stations and districts across the country.
Story by Lilian Akoth,  Pictures by Leakey Sonkoyo