Community perceptions of ecosystem services and the management of Mt. Marsabit forest in northern Kenya
Ouko, Caroline A.
Owuor, Margaret A.
Zaehringer, Julie G.
Oguge, Nicholas O.
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Identifying and characterizing ecosystem services (ES) has been shown to have an important role in sustainable natural resource management. However, understanding communities’ perspectives is critical in determining opportunities and constraints for ES management in multi-use landscapes. To do so, a study was conducted around Mt. Marsabit forest, a multiuse landscape in Kenya. Using stratification, participants from 11 administrative locations adjacent to the forest were selected. A total of 265 households were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. The study analyzed local communities’ perceptions of ES derived from the forest and their involvement in its management. Respondents identified trees, forage, water, fallback land cultivation, aesthetic enjoyment, and shade as key services derived from the forest. However, overexploitation of forest resources has led to degradation. Degradation and insecurity were perceived as the major threats to the ecosystem. The local communities were minimally involved in developing governance structures or management of this forest. Family size, education level, and age were important predictors of level of involvement in management. Lack of involvement in the forest management may have largely contributed to the unsustainable extraction of resources by local communities. We suggest that meaningful engagement of communities in the management of this forest will be critical to its sustainability.
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