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dc.contributor.authorMuiruri, Wanjiku
dc.identifier.citationUniversity of East Africaen
dc.descriptionDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.description.abstractThe 'raison d'etre' of this study is the search for a sound conceptual base upon which to pivot and direct rational managementdecisions for the Aberdare Forest and National Park. The general research activity revolved around critical evaluation and analysis of the various physical, bio-economic and humanfactors that should constitute the fundamental information sources for the utilisation and managementof the resource unit. There were three (3) specific objectives. Firstly, to attempt a conceptual definition of the study area as an ecqsystem. The size of the area, the spatial and te~poral arrangement and dynamics of its major resource sub-syatems, and the superimposition of artificial administrative and management boundaries by man, were regarded as-the significant variables that determine the study area's viability as a functional ecosystem. Secondly, to critically, evaluate the role of the human factor in determining the bio-economic status of the Aberdare system and its resource units. This role was seen as being manifested at two levels: la Through different and/or conflicting attitudes and preferences towards the area and its resources by the rural people wholive within the Aberdare Forest as resident workmen,and around it as farmers. 2. Throughthe formulation and implementation of conflicting objectives, priorities, policies and managementtechniques by Governmentand other . institutions, responsible for the utilisation and managementof the Aberdare resource unit. The final objective was to attempt, on the basis of available information, to formulate an integrated land utilisation and managementmodel for the study area, that incorporates the varied operative ecological and socia..- economicfactors. A numberof findings have emerged from this study. The characteristics and dynamics.of the Aberdare area sub-systems seem to justify the description and analysis of the area in ecosystem terms. However, due to superimposition of artificial boundaries, the area cannot fully and optimally function as a self-contained and self-sustaining ecosystem',-. For its long-term survival, therefore, it is required that manbe further involved by undertaking its rational utilisation and managementguided by ecosystem principles. Conflicts exist amongst the components of the human sub-systems The internal component (forest residents and farmers), manifest different and sometimes conflicting attitudes towards the area and its resources; while the external component(government officials) adopt conflicting policies and utilisation techniques for the area's upkeep and maintenance. Two major guiding concepts were adopted throughout the study. The ecosystem concept provided a powerful means for summarizing the vast range of bio-economic information available, and of translating it into various levels of perception, analysis and action. Secondly, the concept of environmental perception was used to evaluate the role of the different human groups, in terms of their attitudes and preferences. The findings of this study are relevant in two main ways. They illuminate interdisciplinary nature of environmental management problems, particularly the intricate relationship and interdependence of ecosystem and societal components in resource use and management. They also emphasize the'utility of the ecosystem concept as a tool f'or research and planning of natural systems. The general conclusion arising from these observations therefore is, that a successful land use plan for the Aberdare area cannot afford to incorporate only socioeconomic criteria and ignore ecological factors. The former must be based on the limitationsof the physical envirOnment, while both ecological. and economic criteria should be viewed in the light:of the constraints imposed by the human population. Further, the resource units of the Aberdare area will be inefficiently utilised if the policies arid actiyities of the institutions involved are n.ot organized, harmonised and co-ordinated in accordance with the dynamics of the ecological, economic and social environment. This study therefore recommendsthat an integrated systems approach be adopted for the utilisation and managementof the Aberdare forest-catchment-national park unit. Land use policies based on such a concept loo'Oulbde holistic and should be based on suitable scientific knowledge which will accommodatethe varied interest and priorities of the official institutions, as well as those of the rural people residing and working in the area. Specifically, an Aberdare ManagementAuthority should be , created. This would be an independent body composed of personnel derived from all the relevant institutions. Its prime purpose would be to co-ordinate and supervise the activities of these institutions, which are expected to provide inputs into it, 'in the form of "impact statements" about their current and projected activities within the study area. To facilitate such land use re-orientatian, research and surveys of the Aberdare system should be accelerated, particularly with regard to baseline bio-economic and social surveys, resource inventories, ecosystem dynamics, current land use practices and humanvalue systemsen
dc.publisherUniversity of Nairobien
dc.titleThe Aberdare ecosystem: its bio-economic functions, interactions and problems of managementen
local.publisherSchool of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobien

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