Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The PFM (participatory Forest Management conference was held in the Kenya Forestry Research Institute in Muguga, from 6th to 8th June 2007.The conference brought together Foresters, Government Institutions, Donors, Development Partners, CBOs, NGOs, Private Companies, Individuals and Professionals from across the board.

Here are some notes from the meeting that I would like to share:

What is PFM?
PFM, also called Collaborative, Co-management, Joint management of forest resources refer to a situation where some, or all the stakeholders interested in a forest resource are involved in a substantive way in its management. This includes:
Management Arrangement; This is normally negotiated by the stakeholders and based on a set of rights that are recognized by the Government and widely (unanimously) accepted by the resource users.
Power; Equal powers among the stakeholders in sharing the resources sustainably in line with non-interference with the ecosystem.

Is PFM Important?

The PFM is important in many ways, which include;
I. Strengthening the civil society to demand and have powers in an effective forest management and benefits sharing.

II. It also enables the communities to ensure that natural forests, woodlands, wetlands, catchment areas etc, are utilized sustainably, and conserved with increased benefits lifting the living standards of the communities that depend on the forests products.

III. It provides a wide range of awareness and understanding, information dissemination, networking and collective responsibility in wise decisions making.

IV. It also promotes a Pro-poor approach that is more equitable in addressing the interests, while more advanced networks are established that will institutionalize this approach.

V. It’s an easy tool to have the capacity building using the bottom-up approach.

VI. For the ceremonial purposes, it provides a safe and sound venue for traditional cultural practices like boys circumcision, child naming ceremonies and traditional medicine men training.

There are several very Essential outputs (themes) that are addressed in PFM. They include:
1. Information: The communities need to be provided with the much needed information to make PFM properly performed and reap benefits.

2. Advocacy: The communities need to be enlightened on the land policy, forest policy, Forest Acts etc.
3. Organizational strengthening: This normally determines the proper governance and negotiation capacity.

4. Direct Technical Assistance: This helps in the hands-on activities carried on the ground during designated all-inclusive avenues like meetings.

5. Evaluation: This helps the community to do an evaluation and realize what have been achieved, and to also learn from the experiences. It also serves as a good avenue to have a stronger base and a healthy forum to chat the way forward.

PFM Case Study:
The Mukogondo Forest
This is a dry land forest situated in the northern part of the Rift Valley in Kenya. It is a forest reserve with a total area of well over 30,000ha. It provides vital grazing pastures for the adjacent community that consists of pastoralists, mainly the Maasai community. The community members in this area have a traditional governance system that has ensured a sustainable use and a proper conservation system in place. The forest have been traditionally subdivided in four main parts which are further divided into smaller portions which enable the community to graze their livestock in paddocks resembling the ones used in ranches. Grazing is one of the most treasured benefit, others include, non-timber products, firewood, herbal medicine, bee keeping, community meeting venues, and other traditional purposes.

There are tens of water catchment areas there with some streams emanating from there, gradually becoming rivers and eventually flowing towards the adjacent lakes that include lakes Bongoria and Baringo. Indigenous trees like the Nandi Frame, Meru Oak and the Cordia Africana are the most common tree species there. The forest is also home to hundreds of herbivores with buffalo population being the largest. The Laser Kudu population is gradually increasing after years of illegal poaching in some resent years. Leopards and several other animals of the cat family are also found but normally tend to live/hide in the innermost part of the forest that is very dense.

The traditional system have worked very well over the years but there is need to introduce hybrid modern ways of forest sustainability where fast growing exotic trees need to be planted along the forest edges, this include Gravellier Robusta, Sydney Blue Gum, and Cypress just to mention a few. These trees will help in checking the fire wood imbalance since the pollarding method of harvesting is advisable. It will also increase the grazing area, hence preventing the livestock from entering deep in the forest, which will leave the inner ecosystem intact.

Birds & Environment:
The Sokoke Arabuko Forest;
This is a natural forest situated in the coastal province of Kenya. It is a haven of thousands of insect species not forgetting the hundreds of herbivores and the animals of the cat family. The community around this forest have reaped millions of Kenya Shillings trough the thriving tourism, butterfly farming, beekeeping not forgetting the building materials. There are more than 400 bird species recorded in this reserve with Sokoke Scops Owl having the largest population. The people living around the forest have over the years used the birds to foretell important natural occurrences through the way they feed, breed and behave. Some bird species can be used to determine an imminent dry spell or rainy season by virtue of their presence, absence or unusual behavior like breeding or building of ground nests. One of the most notable cases is during the 2005 Tsunami natural catastrophe that caused thousands of deaths in the Eastern countries, with the East Coastal African countries recording well over 100 deaths. Prior to the dooms day, the herders in Sokoke had watched the birds migrate in colonies from Arabuko to the Tsavo East National Park that is well over 200kms to the west, quite a distance away from the coastline! The community around the forest have over many years restrained themselves from encroaching the forest so as not to threaten the birds and the animals habitat and cause un-reversible trend.

Biodiversity & Ecosystem Sustainability:
The forests need to be sustained in order to cater for the needs of the communities adjacent to them and the public at large. Conditions should be put in place to ensure a smooth workable plan as far as the sustenance is concerned. Planting of more trees is a major boost. The cutting of trees should be drastically reduced, or else banned depending on the case at hand. Grazing should also be banned or controlled as it normally depletes the ground cover hence encouraging the rill and Garry erosion during rainy seasons. Non- timber products should be harvested under trident care and sustainable measures in accordance to avoid depletion. The rotting matter also should be left to increase the humus and add the quality of the soil, making it hold water for long periods.

Seasonal Wetlands:
Seasonal wetlands cover a larger area than permanent fresh water during the rainy season.
They play a vital role in the collection, storage, purification, and discharge of fresh water.
They serve as breeding and feeding grounds for fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and birds, including migratory waterfowl.
Seasonal wetlands provide people with water, food, building and weaving materials and ceremonial grounds.
They are especially important in arid and semi-arid areas, where there is little permanent fresh water.

Seasonal wetlands include:
Flooded grasslands
Seasonal marshes, lakes and springs
Temporary pools in grassland, woodland and bush
Ephemeral rock pools, flooded rock slabs and seeps

Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems. In seasonal wetlands, plants and animals grow rapidly and in great abundance for a very short period. Microscopic plants and animals fill the water. They include phytoplankton such as algae and diatoms, and zooplankton, urchins, crustaceans, worms, insects and molluscs. These serve as food for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Several measures should be taken to conserve and protect the wetlands. This include:
1. Identification and Inventory.
2. During land demarcation, seasonal wetlands should be set aside. They serve the whole community for water collection, storage, purification and discharge; for dry season grazing; for collection of materials for ceremonial purposes.
3. Roads should be built around, not across, seasonal wetlands.
4. All seasonal wetlands should be protected since they are the reservoirs of biodiversity.
5. Trees and friendly vegetation should be planted around the wetlands.

Lots of thanks to Carol and Damian (CE Uk) for partly funding me to attend the conference. I am very grateful. Other regards go to the Executive board of CE Kenya, Dr. Bridgit Syombua, Dr. Evelyn Mwihia, Mr. Isaac Musyoka and Caitlin Sanford, for the support you accorded me.

Kanja Peter.

1 comment:

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