Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Kenya
By Lynette Obare and
J. B. Wangwe
1. Situation analysis
Kenya’s forests are
rapidly declining due to pressure from increased population and
other land uses. With B of the country being arid and semi-arid,
there is a lot of strain on the rest of the land since the economy
is natural resource based. The productive area which forms about 20%
of the country’s area falls in the medium and high potential
agro-ecological zones and is under agriculture, forest and nature
reserves. According to FAO Forest Resource Assessment 1990, Kenya
is classified among the countries with low forest cover of less than
2% of the total land area. The dwindling forest cover has a severe
effect on the climate, wildlife, streams, human population
especially forest dwellers.
Mau Forest Complex is
located in the Rift Valley province, about 200 km to the south-west
of Nairobi and straddles four Districts: Kericho, Nakuru, Bomet, and
Narok. It lies in the montane rain forest region which has a good
potential for closed-canopy growth. The forest contains the largest
remaining block of moist indigenous forest in East Africa covering
an area of 900 km˛.
The forest is gazetted
and is under the managerial custody of the State's Forest
Department. It was first gazetted in 1932 by the colonial
government. Many alterations to the forest cover have taken place
since it was first gazetted. These have resulted from excisions,
additions, and boundary alterations.
The Mau forest is
situated on the Mau escarpments in the Great Rift Valley. It forms
the upper catchment of Sondu, Mara and Ewaso Ngiro rivers, which
drain into Lakes Nakuru, Baringo, Victoria, Naivasha, Natron and
Bogoria. The Kenya Forest Master Plan (Ministry of Natural
Resources, 1994), put the Mau forest catchment protection value at
806 million Shillings per year, which is the highest of all the
watershed forests in the country. It is important to note that some
of these lakes are inter-boundary for example Lake Victoria which
straddles three countries in East Africa namely Kenya Uganda and
Tanzania. River Nile originates from this lake and flows to the
The forest is also rich
in bio-diversity and hosts several indigenous tree species like
Olea africana, Dombea goetzenii, Acacia spp, and Bamboo spp.
among others. The forest has been described as being a part of the
Afromontane archipelago-like. It comprises of Afromontane Forest and
Afromontane Bamboo at the higher altitude. Specifically, it
comprises of secondary plant community derived from Rain forest
formation after logging at one time in its history (KIFCON 1994).
The initial vegetation was dominated by Neoboutonia macrocalyx,
which is gradually being replaced by the climax species.
Being on an escarpment,
the vegetation in the Mau forest is distinct at different altitudes.
Rainfall is higher and continuous on the western side with no marked
dry season, and mean annual rainfall of 2,000 mm and above. On the
steep slopes of the escarpment, there is a Moist Montane Forest,
characterized by a mixture of evergreen, semi-deciduous and
deciduous trees. The average canopy height in this area is about 20
meters. The commonest tree species are Cyathea manniana, Ensete
ventricosum, Acanthus eminens and Lobelia gibberoa. The
Eastern side, which lies in a rain shadow, experiences a bimodal
rainfall distribution, peaking in April and again in July/August,
and mean annual rainfall varying from 1,000 to 1,500 mm and there is
a dry forest type of ecosystem. This forest comprises mainly of Juniperus
procera, Hypericum revoltum, Olea capensis, Podocarpus latifolius and
Glades are also common
in the Mau forest most of which are as a result of fire burning the
vegetation. It is thought that the fires are usually deliberately
started as a way of improving the pastures or to clear land for
cultivation especially in area with bamboo forests. High mountain
bamboo thickets, Arundinaria alpina, are found at the topmost
parts of the forest. Polystachya eurygnatha is an archid
endemic to Mau forest while Chionanthus mildbraedii is a
shrub recorded to be found only in Kenya.
Among the large animals
found in this forest are Bongo, Yellow backed Duiker, Golden cat,
Giant forest hog, Leopard, Hyena, Buffalo, Colobus Monkey, and
Impala. The Yellow backed Duiker, the Bongo, the Golden Cat, Leopard
and Elephants are some of the important mammals of international
conservation concern. Other nationally endangered species found only
in this forest are the Potto, the spotted Necked Otter, and the
striped Hyena. The forest is also rich in a variety of birds and is
ranked second among the forests west of the Rift Valley. There are
no endemic bird species in this forest but it is said to represent
the richest montane avifauna in the Eastern Africa. 173 species have
been spotted in the forest.
Mau forest is the home
of the largest group of forest dwellers, the Ogiek. Since time
immemorial, the Ogiek people have been living inside the Mau forest,
depending on the forest for subsistence and shelter. They divided
the forest among their clans using natural features like rivers,
valleys or hills as boundaries. In the period between 1904-1918, the
colonial government tried to evict the community from the forest,
but without success. The forest was gazetted in 1932 while these
people were still inside. Once again in 1941, the colonial
government tried unsuccessfully to evict them after gazetting it but
this only drove them further inside the forest because there was no
communication between them and the government. They did not know
what was expected of them. It was unheard of for the government to
consult with the community and it is said that one government
officer who tried it in 1935 was rebuked and sacked by his senior.
government did not change its attitude towards the Ogieks. It tried
to evict the people in 1972 and 1977/87. In 1972, the government
succeeded in evicting the people but most of them moved back into
the forest after only six months. During the 1977/87 evictions, the
government instructed the people to congregate around the forest
stations in order to be resettled elsewhere later on. A small
percentage (about 25%) did this while others went deeper into the
In 1992 the government
forcefully evicted all the forest dwellers who were still inside the
forest and concentrated them at the forest stations and promised to
allocate them land. To date, most of the Ogieks live at the forest
stations but some moved to the riverbanks where they also practise
The local administration
then alienated that part of the forest that had been converted into
plantation forest, subdivided it into five-acre plots and allocated
it to individuals. The Ogieks allege that those people allocated the
land were not members of their community but from the area around
the forest. The forest was still gazetted and under the custody of
the forest department. The forest department was not involved in the
clear felling of the forest and the allocation of the land.
The communities living
around the forest also depend on the forest especially during the
dry weather. A case study done in Njoro area East of the Mau forest
indicated that the farming community in this area utilise the
plantation area to grow food crops especially vegetables during the
There has been a
negative environmental impact on the forest since the clear felling
started. Wildlife corridors have been tampered with exposing the
forest dwellers and forest neighbours to attacks from elephants.
Land that is on a slope of more than 50 % gradient has been
allocated to farmers with no measures to check the soil erosion.
The Ogieks have always
relied on forests as a source of livelihood. Honey harvesting,
hunting, gathering of wildfruits and nuts from the forests have been
their occupation. They started keeping livestock in 1952. All the
Ogiek groups have lived in or near high forests. Forest resources
played an important role in Ogiek culture rendering their
conservation vital. Whenever the Ogieks moved in the forests, they
used their traditional set-up to conserve it. These conservation
measures that were passed on to the community by the elders include:
Ensuring that there
were no forest outbreaks
Allowing only the
experienced elders to make beehives from the trees, so that the
barks used to make such beehives are removed in a particular way
that conserves the tree. The most commonly used tree for this is
on important tree species like Dobeya goetzeni, Olea euro,
Olea hochstetteri which were used for honey and herbs. The
community members were prohibited from cutting these trees.
In order to manage
the forest properly the Ogieks allocated blocks of forests to
clans to use. The forest areas are first occupied by a clan
which divides it according to the family tree. Each family gives
a name to their part of the forest, for identification and
awareness of other families and customary respect for boundaries;
the boundaries are recognised according to the customary land
tenure system, where rivers, streams, valleys, glades, swamps
and hills serve as boundaries. The Ogiek land tenure system
aimed at defusing feuds resulting from hunting and beekeeping
1.3 Direct causes and
actors leading to deforestation and forest degradation
forests to establish plantations
In 1930, parts of Mau
forests were cleared for the establishment of forest plantations
using mainly exotic species. These occupy about 10% of the forest.
The Ogiek community have been receding into the natural forests when
this happens as their lifestyle depends on natural forests. Most of
these plantations found surrounding the indigenous forests have been
cleared to pave way for agriculture. Without the protection offered
by the plantation the indigenous forests are now threatened.
Saw millers obtain
licences to permit them to practise logging especially within the
plantations. They also have to pay logging fees to the forest
department. These charges are very low and not revised often to
reflect the current economic situation. The saw-millers do not stick
to the guidelines on logging and the Forest department does not have
the mechanisms to enforce the rules and regulations under the
current retrenchment process. The forests have been logged
extensively in a non-systematic way. There is no annual allowable
cut established and no adequate yield regulation in place. Often,
there is intensive selective cutting and overexploitation leaving
behind an inferior stock to mature as a final crop. This leads to
further forest loss as the Department cannot rehabilitate the areas
where trees have been felled.
Conversion of natural
forests into agricultural land: The Shamba system
The Shamba system
is adopted from the Taungya system of South America. It was
devised by the Forest Department (FD) in 1943 to facilitate
plantation establishment. This was prompted by the acute land
shortage faced by communities after colonisation, and a need to
reduce plantation establishment costs by the Forest Department. It
was also meant to provide food security to those who practised it.
Under the Shamba system,
the cultivators were incorporated into the FD through employment and
were permitted to clear and cultivate cut over indigenous bush cover
from a specified land area; usually between 0.4-0.8 ha per year.
This is done with the agreement that tree seedlings are planted on
this land, and subsequently tended through weeding, pruning and
safeguarding against game damage. In return the FD provided the
resident cultivator with employment, social amenities and land for
the cultivation of annual crops such as maize, potatoes, beans, peas
and other vegetables. Cultivation proceeded until a time when tree
seedlings were large enough to shade, and thus inhibit the growth of
annual plant crops; usually a period of 3-5 years.
The extent of the Shamba
system was restricted to the high potential areas, comprising about
3% of Kenya's land area, and representing 12% of Kenya's total
agricultural land. These areas are endowed with fertile soils of
volcanic origin and a high annual (>1000 mm) rainfall with a
Clearly, the Shamba
system was an important arrangement which enhanced and sustained the
food security of otherwise landless peasants. The system was
discontinued in 1986 chiefly due to an expanded human population
whose demand for forest land allocation exceeded the initial FD
objective of plantation establishment. In addition, illegal
activities (e.g.. forest clearing, tree poaching, hunting) from the
resident cultivators and their families jeopardised forest
protection and management. Interestingly, resident cultivators in
forest areas with high wildlife populations voluntarily gave up the
practice due to crop destruction and livestock predation.
After the Shamba system
was stopped, communities living around the forest moved in and
settled in areas that were cleared. Forest degradation has escalated
as they do not use indigenous forest management knowledge.
In the 1990s the Forest
Department introduced the Non-resident Cultivation (NRC) for the
establishment of plantation forests. Through the approval of the
respective District Development Committees, cultivators were
involved in plantation development under certain terms and
conditions that were enforced by the respective Forester, District
Forest Officer and Provincial Forest Officer.
cultivation is a modification of the Shamba system that attempts to
reduce the risk of cultivators claiming squatter rights on forest
land. The system however, fails to take into account the need to
protect crops from wild animals and thieves that invade the plots at
The Ogiek people did not
practice any Shamba system or non-resident cultivation. Those who
still reside in the forest do very little cultivation, but not
within arrangements sanctioned and therefore controlled by the
Forest department. Moreover, the Ogieks of Mau do not dwell in
plantation forests where the Shamba system or non resident
cultivation is done. Their homes are in natural forest reserves.
Carving out of forests
for human settlement is on the increase as the government is very
keen to settle the forest dwelling communities along the forest
boundaries or within the cleared forest plantations. However the
Ogieks are strongly opposed to this and are keen on working out
modalities of managing the forests together with the government.
There has been continuous eviction of the community from the forests
for resettlement outside the natural forests. Some community members
are still back into the forests and do not want to change their
current lifestyle. This resettlement is politically motivated as the
community is aware of some people who have registered as part of the
community in order to obtain land. So far the outsiders have been
allocated land but some of the Ogieks are still concentrated in
The process of forest
protection was introduced under the ‘East Africa Forest
Regulations, 1902’ by the first Conservator of Forests. These
regulations allowed for the gazettement and degazettement of
forests, and control of forest exploitation through a system of
licences and fines.
The Government through
the Minister for Natural Resources has the express authority to
degazette the forest through a legal process of excision. This
excisions are done with the intent of converting the area to other
alternative land uses like settlement, private agriculture that do
not foster tree cover. The forests are degazetted then surveyed and
demarcated for the proposed use.
There are several
loopholes in the excision process. These include:
The excisions are
made without consultation with the stakeholders. Procedures of
collecting public views and sharpening their perspectives on
causes-effects linkages as it may affect those aggrieved by the
excision are never put in place and neither are provisions for
compensation clear. A notice is placed in the Kenya Gazette
and whoever wants to contest it is given 28 days to do so. The
Minister is however under no obligation to consider the views in
the final decision. The readership of the Kenya Gazette is very
limited and not many people get to know about the notices.
The Minister has the
powers to put in a notification and he can be influenced by
political and economic pressure but not necessarily for the
common interest of the public.
take place after the forests have already been illegally
There is no
environmental and socio-economic impact assessment done for the
proposed changes in land-use leading to unsustainable land
In order to clear land
for cultivation or grazing, those intending to settle into the
forest set the vegetation on fire. The fires spread extensively and
cause a lot of damage to the forest biodiversity. Charcoal burners
also destroy the forest as they use traditional kilns which are not
energy efficient, this activity is done illegally and therefore no
one controls or tends the fires which in most cases destroy the
areas surrounding the charcoal burning sites.
responsible for the mentioned direct causes include the Forest
Department, saw millers, politicians, and influential persons. Since
Mau Forest is a gazetted forest, and therefore government property,
no individual or community has the legal right over this resource.
This gives leeway for illegal exploitation as the people are
alienated from their resources. The Ogieks are not able to intervene
when they also see outsiders destroying what they have lived to
conserve and this is very disheartening.
There are a lot of
powers vested onto the Minister of Natural Resources especially
regarding excision. In a situation whereby policy decisions are
entrusted in the hands of a few individuals they are not made to
serve the public interest.
interventions to counteract the deforestation process and problems
Protection of the
rivers and streams in the area
The community members
have a system of managing the forests through their lineage system.
Each clan is in charge of a forest block, zoned along natural
boundaries like rivers, hills and valleys. It is the responsibility
of the elders to ensure that the resources are used in the right
way. This knowledge is passed on to the young generation by this
elders. The community members protect the streams by ensuring no
cultivation is done within 50 metres on both sides of the rivers.
However this can no longer be ensured as the Government is always
removing them from the forests and resettling them elsewhere. There
is a lot of infiltration into the forest by outsiders who are not
keen in managing the river banks and just clear the trees for short
in forest conservation
The Ogieks recognise the
fact that they have lived in the forests and depended on them
through out their lives. They have used their indigenous knowledge
to sustainably utilise the forest products (honey, wild fruits and
nuts, game meat) and ensure the resources are protected. They noted
with concern that the destruction of the forest is done by outsiders
who burn charcoal and fell trees for timber. They realise that those
destroying the forests will have an impact on them even when they
conserve the areas where they are allocated. They propose that their
traditional forest management knowledge be incorporated into
conventional forest management. They also request to be involved in
the decision making process regarding forest management. They are
limited by the present tenure system as they live in the forest but
do not have ownership rights over it from the time it was gazetted.
With the current resettlement programme they are keen to obtain
ownership of the land then make tangible future conservation plans.
They prefer to own the allocated land communally and manage it this
way. They are keen on adoption of agroforestry practices and would
still like to continue hunting, collecting honey and wild fruits
from the natural forests. They are however, restricted from these
activities and are opposed to any forced change in their way of
In order to counter
political interference and allocation to forest land to individuals
the Ogieks have filed a case in court which is on-going and will
take time considering the legal procedures to be followed. The
defendants include the Attorney General, the Area District Officer,
District Forest Officer, and the Office of the President (which gave
the directive that parts of the forests be subdivided for
2. Description of the
underlying causes and the actors responsible for them
2.1 Underlying causes
of deforestation and forest degradation
formulation and enforcement
The land policies in
totality often tend to be agrarian favouring large-scale farmers.
They are not consistent as they application varies with different
regions or sectors depending on the land tenure systems. This leads
to confusion, misuse, non-use, and indiscriminate destruction of the
resources. The government has acknowledged the need for a serious
review of the land tenure system but has not implemented this. The Policy
Framework Paper on Economic Reforms for 1996-1998 confirmed the
intention of the government to establish a Land Use Commission to
address land tenure and land policy issues with a view to improving
sustainable agricultural productivity and food security situation as
well as ensuring biodiversity considerations are taken in land-use
decisions. To date, no commission has been set up this being the
last year of the reform period.
Policy mandates on
conservation, governance, accessibility and sustainable use of
forestry resources does not offer a broader range of public
participation and approval in its decision making process. The
current policy and legal framework does not promote sustainable
forest management. It was inherited from the colonial era and more
concerned with control and distribution rather than management. It
is based on Session Paper No. 1 of 1968 which was a
restatement with minimal changes of White Paper No. 1 of 1957
that was the basis of colonial forest policy. It does not give room
for collaborative forest management and neither does it take into
consideration the lifestyle of the forest dwellers. It further fails
to clarify issues of forest resource ownership, accessibility,
mechanism for public approval and redress in its judicial and
administrative procedures. The policy is enacted through the Forest
Act that vests a lot of power in the hands of the Minister for
An amended forest policy
based on the Kenya Forestry Master Plan that recommends the
development of several forms of partnerships which will incorporate
and involve all forestry stakeholders in forest management is yet to
be tabled in parliament for debate.
The Ogieks lived in the
forest before it was gazetted and it is their ancestral land. They
had customary land rights over the forests. The forest dwellers find
themselves in a very precarious position as they do not have
security of tenure under the present system and are often victims of
inappropriate decisions made for them. For instance they have been
evicted from the forest many times and are no longer provided with
social amenities in the forest. They are also prohibited from
grazing, hunting and collecting honey in the forest.
In terms of enforcement,
the penalties that are laid down on infringement of forest land is
very low compared to the potential gains from illegal activities.
Those in-charge enforcing the legislation are lax as they not well
motivated to do so and often work together with those destroying the
As a result of political
rivalry, forests were given to supporters of particular politicians
as a bribe or repayment for political patronage. Most of the forest
was subdivided into five hectares plot for allocation just before
the last elections. This was done to woo the voters from particular
communities. There were a lot of outsiders posing as Ogieks in order
to obtain land. There has also been a move to try and assimilate the
Ogieks into bigger tribes. Those allocated the land are after quick
gain and not interested in conservation. In any case this
sub-division interferes with forest biodiversity as the plots are
put under different land use systems.
The decision regarding
forests lies in the hands of the Minister of Natural Resources who
is influenced by other top politicians. Natural resources are
destroyed to enrich the political royalty. Therefore it is the
politically correct who benefit from forest excisions. The decision
to subdivide Mau forest was made in an ad-hoc manner without
consultation with those depending on them or the environmentalists.
Even the Forest department was not consulted on this issue yet they
are the custodian of this forest. The forest dwellers adversely
affected by such decisions.
production for export: Cash crop
farming is on the increase on the cleared portions of forest. These
cash crops are grown for export to the industrialised countries and
compete in the world market to earn the country the much needed
The crops grown include
tea and pyrethrum. The Ogieks claimed that pyrethrum and pesticides
applied on the farms kill bees and have rendered bee keeping
unviable. Bee keeping is affected by the growing of pyrethrum and
the use of pesticides on the farm, it is therefore not a suitable
alternative to harvesting of honey in the forest.
Nyayo Tea Zones
Development Corporation was assigned forest land in order to grow
tea to provide a buffer between the agricultural land and forests
designated for protection as well as an alternative source of income
and employment. This was established by Presidential order in 1986
and Act of Parliament in 1988. The approximate boundary planting
width that the zones were to occupy were not formally established
but a general width of 100m into the forest was nominally accepted.
Little consideration was given to the suitability of these areas,
they are moderate to poor for tea growing in some parts. Further,
the areas have been affected by poor management and poor access
leading to further degradation of the forest. This tea zones have
been the largest alternative use of forest land in Mau, out of a
total of 2152 ha cleared in Mau Forest, only 542 ha were planted
with tea leading to serious forest loss and degradation. The market
promotes growing of these commodities for global trading thus impact
on the activities at the local level.
The liberalisation process has put a
lot of emphasis on the privatisation of public land and forests
resulting in the non recognition of customary resource tenure. The
Ogieks have been denied their ancestral rights to the land they
occupy. The government is in the process of issuing title deeds for
forests and this process can be abused in terms of area the area
quoted in the title deed being much less than the actual forest
Adjustment Programmes: As a result of
the restructuring process going on the Government has had to trim
the public sector and reduce the budget allocated to its various
departments. The Forest department has not been spared from this.
Most of the forest guards have been retrenched making it very
difficult for the forests to be managed well. This encourages
illegal use of forests.
Kenya’s population is
concentrated on the arable land which is about 20% of the
country’s area. This puts a lot of strain on the forests which are
seen as ‘free land for potential use’. In Mau Forest, those
coming from outside (the forest neighbours) would like to reap
maximum benefits from it. They come to get land for cultivation
(some practise commercial tractor farming) and grazing. They
supplement their income by felling indigenous trees for charcoal.
The Ogieks are keen on utilising the forest sustainably as they
depend on it for their livelihood. This brings about a lot of
conflict between these two groups resulting to further destruction.
Those responsible for
the underlying causes at different levels include:
Local Level: Cash crop
farmers who grow crops and continue to increase the area under
cultivation to be able to get more income. The local administration
have been instrumental in allocating land to individuals without
considering conservation issues.
National level: The
policy makers do not have the will to incorporate the lifestyle of
the Ogieks in their plans. The Forest Department does not train
their staff to recognise that role of indigenous knowledge in forest
conservation. Political leaders are only interested in gaining
mileage by giving people land so that they become popular. They do
not consider the long term effects of destroying the catchment areas
and are only interested in the economic gain. They only plan for
their five year term in office. The Ogieks do not have
representatives in paliarment and there have been attempts to
assimilate them into other community.
Global level: The
Industries and consumers in developed world promote the export of
cash crops in bulk mainly in raw form for processing. Structural
adjustment programmes of the World Bank that are economically
oriented with little regard to sustainable environmental
conservation also encourage intensive exploitation of forest land.
These two actors operate
behind the scene. They influence those at the local level as they
come up with the measures on how the global economy should run. The
decision made by them will determine the kind of national plans in
place and therefore influence the local communities.
motivations, and incentives for all the actors
nature of the global economy. Global trade and the market forces
influence commodities to be produced for export. The focus is on
those fetching good prices in the world market.
The industries in
the developed countries require cheap raw materials from the
department practices traditional forestry through protection of
forest areas by strict control of fire and grazing and by
eradication of private rights in gazetted forests as defined in
the current forest policy. The Department works on accruing
economic benefits from the forests.
To gain quick profit
through exploitation of land resources. This leads to plundering
of resources in the get-rich-quickly culture.
applied by different actors to achieve their goals
department gives priority to developing the forest industry thus
establishment of forest plantations.
The production of
cash crops in bulk for the export market will promote
international/trans boundary trading.
land for better and more economical utilisation.
2.5 The relationship
between the various actors
The community members
are very suspicious of the local government and the forest
department as they have been marginalised for a long time.
The Minister does not
have the will to stop forest destruction as he is appointed to this
post. He has to take into consideration the views of those who
The local actors (cash
crop growers) are encouraged to produce for export by the national
exporters. These are para-statal corporations formed to market cash
crops for the farmers.
between the underling causes actors
The Minister of Natural
Resources does not need legislative intervention to order the
suspension of excisions of natural forests as the Forest Act
protects endangered plant and animal species and water catchment
areas. In most cases the Minister cannot reverse the excisions since
there is a lot of political influence on his decision to degazette
The Forest department
has the mandate to look after forests but the presidential or
executive decrees over-ride all other plans earmarked for the
The forests are gazetted
and earmarked for protection but those in-charge of looking after
them cannot withstand the pressure to privatise the land which is
considered public property. The land can also be privatised through
programmes of the world bank recommends that the Government
workforce is trimmed without considering the environmental
implications of such a move. Their macro-economic policies do not
give due regard to environmental issues.
The Foresters are
trained in traditional forestry which is not relevant to the
situation on the ground especially when it comes to looking after
The FD is in charge of
monitoring the forests and ensuring that there is no illegal
exploitation of the resources. They do not have the budget, the
machinery, or adequate staff to ensure that this happens.
between the underlying causes actors and other actors
The forest dwellers stay
in the forest and use their indigenous knowledge to manage the
forests but they have no authority to make decisions regarding
The government tenure
arrangement has been imposed on the Ogieks who were already in the
forests under customary tenure before it was degazetted.
The Forest department is
meant to earmark sections of the forests suitable for logging. They
do not however have the machinery and resources to do so. This
prompts the saw millers to select the trees they are interested in
regardless on their maturity level. They then approach the FD to
permit them to cut down the trees.
The Ogieks are
prohibited from grazing and hunting on their ancestral land yet
their livelihood depends on the forest.
3.1 Possible actions
to counteract the underlying causes of deforestation and forest
decision makers on the need to involve local stakeholders in
policy formulation. The formulation of an integrated and
comprehensive land policy geared towards attaining sustainable
development is crucial. This should consider the natural
resources holistically not sectorally and harmonise what is in
existence. This will entail restructuring the decision making
process. Policy intervention to ensure collaborative forest
management and security of tenure.
Tabling a bill in
parliament to reduce the powers of the Minister and ensure that
the decision making process is consultative right from the
The management of
the forest should be done by a board of trustees who are drawn
from the various forest stakeholder groups.
Meting out harsh
penalties on those destroying the forest.
There should be
elaborate measures for ensuring public accessibility to timely
and relevant information as a means of empowering them and
building their confidence in participation.
sustainable forest management. The Forest Action Network has an
on-going project in Mau that aims at creating awareness among
the Ogieks on policy and legal issues. This will include
sensitising them on their rights to the forest resources. The
project will also document information on the Ogiek’s
traditional forest management practices, organise workshops for
different stakeholders of Mau Forest to enable them come
together and work out a plan of action for achieving sustainable
Advocacy at the
Global level to sensitise the consumers and industries on
accepting goods (forest products, cash crops) that are
sustainably produced. The World Bank should be prevailed upon to
come up with environmental responsive policies and action plans.
conservation of forests through sustainable harvesting of
products and reforestation.
that reduce the pressure off the forest like sericulture,
butterfly farming, improved bee-keeping, development of fodder
banks, bio-intensive agriculture and farm forestry.
marketing and value-adding processes to existing products.
Capacity building of
forest users in technical knowledge-base in relevant fields such
as species enrichment and management regimes.
changes with a view of counteracting the observed changes in
order to enhance potential of the forest.
3.2 Actors to
implement the actions
Policy makers, The Ogiek Welfare Management Committee, Forest
Department, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture,
Kenya Wildlife Service, the Local Authorities, Ministry of Lands and
Settlement, Research and Academic Organisations, Provincial
Administration, Consumers at Global level, Industries receiving raw
materials for processing, Members of the National Environment Action
Plan, Kenya Forest Working Group, Kenya Working Group on
Biodiversity, Kenya Wetlands Working Group.
3.3 Actors who will
support such actions
Kenya Human Rights
Commission, Forest Action Network, Ogiek Welfare Management
Committee, Local User Groups (hunters, herbalists, carvers, honey
collectors etc), Oasis Development Group of Mau Forest, Research and
Academic Institutions (Egerton University, National Museums of
Kenya), Kenya Forest Working Group.
3.4 Actors opposed to
Those already benefiting
from the current status quo are opposed to any changes. As it is the
proposed changes in the forest policy have not been debated in
Parliament. It is not considered as an issue of priority yet the
resources continue to be plundered.
It is not in the
interest of the Minister for Environment to have his powers reduced
and neither is the intention of the politicians to remove the
loopholes they are using to acquire forest land.
and Subject Specialist who fail to provide technical guidance prior
to official excision or tolerate forest degradation.
Special Interest Groups:
Commercial saw-millers, Commercial Farmers who want to convert
forests into cash crop farms.
and environmental impact of the actions
land production options that are environmentally sensitive and
responsive to local needs and livelihood security.
system and procedures put in place.
of the community in decision making
through accessibility to relevant information.
enhancement through increase in species composition and density.
physical changes and degradation within the forest for enhanced
potential of land, water and biological resources.
There will be
sufficient consideration for socio-economic and environmental
issues that are fully integrated with a broader range of public
boosted by fair trade and environment protected through
A lot of concerted
effort should be taken to deal with the underlying causes of
deforestation involving all the actors responsible. In Kenya the
Inter Parties Parliamentary Group is working on constitutional
review and will work on change of policies to suit the current
reality. They intend to accommodate the view of all Kenyan by
organising consultative meetings for the public. The civil society
is also creating awareness on conservation and policy issues.
SUMMARY OF EVENTS
1904,1911,1918 - 1st
evictions of the Ogiek ( To Narok ).
1932 - Gazzetment of forest.
1939 - Land cater commission.
1941 - 2nd evictions of the Ogiek to Olenguorone (Nakuru).
1953 - Rural development.
1953 - Chief Kitango Teresit - declared Dorobo ( Ogiek) chief -
1954 - Full Gazzetment of forest.
1954 - Swynnerton plan which advanced the process of
individualisation of land-ownership in Kenya. (R.J.M Swynnerton,
1954. A Plan to Intensify the Development of African Agriculture)
1961 - K.N.F.U. - Public circular of land titles.
1963 – Kenya’s independence
1967 - Trust lands vested with county council.
1969 - Ogiek trust land declared a free land ( Olenguruone area
1972 - Ogiek evicted to lake Nakuru settlement scheme.
1977 - 4th eviction of Ogiek from Keringet forest.
1987 - 5th eviction of Ogiek from Nessoit and Mariashoni to Ndoinet
1991 - Ogiek allowed to resettle in Mau forest ( East ) around the
1993 – Infiltration of outside communities from other districts.
1994 - Official opening of the scheme.
1995 - Year of demonstrations.
1996 - On 31 May, 1996, the Ogiek welfare management committee was
formed to oversee the Ogiek problems, its causes and possible
solutions and remedies. This is a community based organisation, was
established in Nakuru Kenya, to arrest the current trend in which
the community is getting alienated from the forests that it depends
on. The Ogiek welfare council has worked out its action plan and
therefore seeks material, moral and financial assistance from your
organisations or institutions to implement its programme of which
its details are already given and expounded. It intends to carry out
advocacy on their issues and shall always be ready to participate,
if invited to fora on indigenous communities protection. It was at
this period that we the Ogiek prepared a detailed memorandum which
they presented to all members of the parliament and diplomatic
missions. Also the year more than 72 members of Ogiek community were
1997 - Ogiek take their land case to court. It was directed to the
constitution court under two judge bench. 900.sq Km is the area
claimed by Ogiek.
1998 - The year of the verdict which is still pending.
Ministry of Environment
and Natural Resources, 1994. Kenya Forest Master Plan
Peter Wass, 1995.
Kenya’s Indigenous Forests: Status, Management and Conservation.
Odhiambo, 1998. Policy Dialogue Series No.1. &2.