Talks to certify forests gather momentum

CCF Mr. Julius Kamau and FSC Regional Director Prof. Harisson Kojwang' (PHOTO: Courtesy)

Kenya Forest Service in collaboration with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is in discussions towards possible commencement of certification processes for forests in Kenya.

The Council is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 that aims to promote responsible management of the world's forests. It is an example of a market-based certification program used as a transnational environmental policy.

In a meeting between the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau and FSC Regional Director Prof. Harisson Kojwang', it was discussed that the Service would commence engagement with FSC in a pilot program to certify Aberdares forest ecosystem and the Eburru forest to verify it's ecosystems standards.

The CCF noted that the Service, as the national steward and policy driver on forestry matters, has developed an open approach to the current trends of global forest management practices which will put the country at the forefront in enhancing the value of forest resources.

"As a Service, we aim to demonstrate the value of sustainable management of forest resources to the strategic benefit of the country through international standards certification, and enhance engagement with investors both locally and internationally to promote the sector, especially in agroforestry," noted Kamau, while citing the bamboo industry as an apparent beneficiary.

The two noted that Kenya has great potential to certify it is forests to international standards through Forest Management Certification as one of the certificate models which confirms that a particular forest block or area is being managed in a manner that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers while ensuring it sustains economic viability.

Prof Kojwang' noted that the principles and criteria for forest stewardship are designed to serve as a common starting point for developing National Forest Stewardship Standards.

The meeting agreed that a team of forestry experts drawn from the two institutions will engage in finding all possible candidate forest types including plantations and ecosystems, and map the areas to develop a masterplan for resource mobilization towards certification.

The CCF noted that through this avenue, the Service would best demonstrate the value of sustainable forest conservation, management, and protection and also highlight revenue streams through ecosystem services which would benefit conservation efforts in the country by reducing pressure on forest resources eg through logging which has been the notion all through on how revenue can be generated from forest resources.

The meeting also explored models for certification of sustainable charcoal production to enhance private agroforestry to enhance livelihood.

In Africa, FSC is instrumental in facilitating Namibia's dry woodland sector through certification making it the only country in Africa to sustainably export charcoal to Europe. The Council is vastly established at the Congo Basin with over 5.4 million Ha of forests certified, South Africa (3.8million Ha certified), Gabon, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya as its latest frontier.