MOMBASA, KENYA: Efforts to engage surrounding communities is bearing fruit in the conservation of mangrove forest along Kenya’s coast.
During a recent tour, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) noted a high survival rate of 97 per cent on areas where it planted over 100,000 mangroves last year.
In a meeting with officials from Big Ship CBO (A user right group under the CFA), Chief Conservator of Forest Mr Julius Kamau appreciated the complementary role that the forest adjacent community have demonstrated in conserving and protecting the Ganaola forest area, through which the Community Forest Association (CFA) members have benefited from nature-based enterprises such as beekeeping, fish farming, and establishment of mangrove tree nurseries.
He noted that community empowerment through livelihood programs and effective engagement in forest conservation and management reduces their dependency on these critical resources, therefore the best sustainable intervention towards conservation and protection of mangroves.
While threats on mangrove have significantly reduced, the CCF however noted that the fragile ecosystems still face an immense threat in some areas.
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"Illegal logging for wood fuel and point source water pollution due to poor sanitation in the vulnerable urban settlements situated along with the mangrove forests remain the greatest threat." noted the CCF.
He challenged KFS officers in the region to deepen engagement with other organs of Government through the county multi-agency security to deal with diverse threats facing mangrove forests.
The CCF commended members of Bidii Creek Conservancy CFA, through their chairperson Mr. Ali Mohammed who through collaboration with the Service, has planted over 10,000 mangrove propagules this year at Jomvu Kuu.
The Service is currently working towards enhancing its capacity at the coastal region to effectively manage and protect mangrove ecosystems protection. Towards this end, KFS has received a patrol boat to enhance surveillance in Lamu County, and will further strengthen its marine surveillance unit to strengthen operations and establish more Rangers Camps within the mangrove forest circuit.
Meanwhile, Kenya Forest Service has called for accelerated efforts towards finalisation of the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in forest conservation and implementation of the same in KFS programmes.
Speaking to a multi-agency technical team that is generating training content for HRBA at the Kenya School of Government, Mombasa, Mr. Kamau appreciated the development partner, UNDP for supporting the initiative that targets KFS staff and other Forestry sector stakeholders.
The technical team that has already completed the draft curriculum and manual is comprised of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Forest Service and Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and other SAGAs.
Mr. Kamau noted that the Service protects forests and is a driver and enabler of human rights and he urged participants to ensure they build the capacity of forest adjacent communities to understand the HRBA.
He noted that the Constitution outlines multiple human rights, and forest protection is part of the fulfillment of those rights particularly the right to life, and right to a clean environment.