Kenyans will soon reap plenty of benefits when the Devolved Forestry Functions are transferred to the 47 counties and the Forest (Conservation and Management) Bill 2015 is passed into law.
Many decisions regarding forests will be bestowed upon the County Governments and the local people who will make crucial choices about forestry resources. Matters of forests governance, National Standards of Forests management and utilization of products have been adequately addressed in the proposed Transitional Implementation Plan Framework and the proposed Forest (Conservation and Management) Bill 2015 which proposes incentives for forests development by the county Governments in an effort to enhance livelihoods and reduce poverty for the local people.
Kenya Forests Working Group is already working closely with the Kenya Forest Service and County Governments in efforts to implement the Gazette Supplement No. 116 dated 9th of August 2014 which provides for devolution of specified forestry functions to the County Governments including farm forestry extension services, forests and game reserves formerly managed by Local Authorities. It is for this reason that KFS under her statutes developed a Transition Implementation Plan (TIP) framework to provide for a smooth transfer of the identified devolved forestry functions that were previously implemented by the Kenya Forestry Service.
KFWG has been working with communities through Participatory Forest Management and some valuable experience and lessons have been learnt in community management of forests. The organisation wants to build on experiences to encourage counties to invest in the forestry sector by supporting social development and creating employment for the youth.
Constitution of Kenya 2010 advocated for redress of community rights, land tenure issues and benefit sharing issues which calls for a shared national focus and dialogue to promote policy and institutional change that will enhance good governance in Forests management.
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Devolving forestry functions will ensure that Kenya Forest service supports County Governments in identifying forest potential and while enhancing individual and institutional capacities of the county governments through capacity building to enable them develop and manage the local resources.
Already KFWG has established a number of County Natural Resource Forums in different counties incorporating respective Community Forest Associations, county governments, private sector, women and youth to ensure both forests are managed and conserved while improve livelihoods through sustaining alternative income generating activities to reduce communities’ dependency on forest resources.
“We appeal to the national government, county leaders, private sector and all sectors to work together to help reduce deforestation and degradation in an effort to link forests to social and economic growth for the local people.”