Thursday, March 11, 1999
Mau forest hit by degradation
By NATION Correspondent
Mau Forest in Nakuru District is
faced with serious environmental degradation problems, a report
presented at a natural resources management workshop says.
The document, prepared by Forest
Action Network (FAN), a local non-governmental organisation, cites
increased agricultural activities as the main cause of degradation
in the country's largest indigenous forest block.
The document arises from surveys
carried out over the last two years in east and south-west Mau
Forest by teams from FAN, East African Wildlife Society, Kenya
Forest Working Group in consultation with the Forest Department.
The surveys are part of a project
entitled "Advocacy for Sustainable Natural Resource
Management" being undertaken in Mau Forest and other forests
in the country. The project is sponsored by the Swedish
International Development Authority and runs from July 1, 1998 to
December 31, 1999.
Mau Forest, situated over 30
kilometres west of Nakuru, covers approximately 900 square
kilometres and straddles four districts, namely, Kericho, Nakuru,
Bomet and Narok.
The project document says that most
of the plantation forest has been cleared to pave way for
agricultural activities thereby opening up the core indigenous
forest block to much exploitation.
The document was presented at a
two- day workshop held at Egerton University's Crop Management and
Research Training Centre, Njoro on Monday.
The participants at the workshop
which was sponsored by SIDA and FAN, were drawn from all the
communities living around the forest and who are being sensitised
on the legal and policy aspects regarding natural resources
The report describes the forest as
one rich in diversity with a large variety of wildlife and
indigenous tree species. The communities living in and around the
forest depend on it for their subsistence.
Following the clearing of
vegetation for farming, the soil has been exposed to erosion. The
fertile topsoil has subsequently been carried away leaving the
land severely degraded.
This degradation, the report says,
is progressively destroying Mau Forest which most importantly
serves as the catchment area for the country's major Lakes that
include Nakuru, Victoria, Bogoria and Baringo.
"The degradation of the forest
is destroying this catchment area thus affecting the flow of water
to these lakes. The reduced flow of water has an adverse effect on
the people living along the rivers."
The destruction of the forest, the
document says, directly affects the lives of the people who depend
on it socially and economically. The saw millers who depend on it
for their raw materials are also directly affected.
The report blames the destruction
of the forest to lack of control by the local people over the
management of the natural resource and insufficient influence over
policy, administration and legislation pertaining to natural
The report says most of the people
living in and around the forest do not know the provisions of the
Forest Act, especially the section touching on rights and
responsibilities regarding forest conservation.
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