Impact of Benefit Sharing Arrangements on Sustainable Management of Public Forests: a Case Study of Karura Forest in Kenya
Keige, Esther, W
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Forests support livelihoods of an estimated 1.6 billion people globally. Besides, forests provide a multiple of direct and indirect benefits to human beings. In Kenya, benefits from forests such as provision of building materials, fuel wood and employment account for approximately 3.6% of the gross domestic product. It is from this understanding that sustainable forest management becomes a critical concern for both research and policy making. Evidence of the challenges facing the application of sustainability concept is the fact that the global forest cover in square kilometers was reported to have declined from 31.6% to 30.6% between 1990 and 2015. The decline occurred despite the adoption of the Forest Principles at the UN- Conference of Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. One of the mechanisms aiding the operationalization of existing forest policies, laws and institutions is the concept of Benefit Sharing. Literature shows that benefit sharing mechanism has also performed dismally due to lack of clear definition of benefits to be shared and the distribution of power in decision making over the forestry resources. The study thus aimed at investigating the benefit sharing mechanism at Karura public forest within the forest regulatory framework in Kenya. Study data was obtained from primary and secondary sources. Primary sources were from survey with the forest neighbouring community members, focus group discussions with the Friends of Karura Forest (FKF), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Forest Users and key informants from key stakeholders of the Karura forests. Secondary data emanated from literature review, especially policies, guidelines, laws and institutions for public forests as formulated and legislated by the government of Kenya. Qualitative data analysis from the community respondents was conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, while quantitative data from secondary sources was analysed using Microsoft Excel. Content analysis was used to analyze data from the focus group discussions and key informants. Results show that 42% of the community members acknowledge benefits that Karura forest provided in the area, especially employment and fuel wood that accounted for about 68% of the total benefits. However, a majority of the community members reported biased process of sharing benefits with the community members. About 70% of the community did not explicitly know the basis of membership to- and the role of FKF as a community forest association. An estimated 88% of the community members had never participated in drafting any of the existing forest management policies and laws, and about 80% reported a ‘poor performance’ of the current Karura forest management. The study revealed that the modalities for benefit sharing were not specific. The study showed low transparency of information sharing and change of the form of benefits shared between FKF and the community. It was observed that with the increasing number of visitors in the forest against an almost static size of labour force, the quality of service was expected to decline over time. Although the increase in visitors’ number increased revenue, there were concerns about the visitor carrying capacity of the forest. A majority of key players supported the co-management of public forests, but they suggested an evaluation of the relationships and roles of partners after ten years of implementation. From the results, the study concluded that active community participation, clear definition of benefits, transparency in sharing defined benefits, balanced power relations and streamlining co-management activities in the existing regulatory framework were key to realizing sustainable management for Karura forest.
University of Nairobi
SubjectImpact of Benefit Sharing Arrangements on Sustainable Management of Public Forests: a Case Study of Karura Forest in Kenya
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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