Politics and conservation of the Mau forest in Kenya
Soi, Joel K
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The study set out to establish the relationship between politics and Mau Forest conservation in Kenya. An attempt has been made to justify the study both as policy and as scholarly contribution. It is useful not only to Kenyan policy makers but to the global community. It underlines the gaps both theoretically and in literature which the study is likely to fill. Literature review further emphasized the need to investigate the relationship between politics and Mau Forest conservation. The study is guided by the theory of ecologism as espoused in political ecology and where the two hypotheses are drawn the first being that politics play a role in destruction of the Mau Forest and two that there is political interest in the conservation of the Mau Forest. This is strengthened by the fact that the nature of encroachment in the Mau Forest land and the defense of the encroachers by the political class hence the shift from forest conservation to political duel. In terms of methodology, the study relied on both primary and secondary data. The respondents in the primary data were identified through non-probability sampling technique. The secondary data on the other hand was obtained from books, journals, magazines, newspapers, websites and government documents. Data collected indicate that politics for a long time engineered the destruction of the Mau Forest through exploitation of loopholes in policies and legislations. Further, the data collected also indicate that the conservation of the Mau Forest has attracted a lot of politics and have been used to meet political ends and punish political opponents. The study further concluded that there is a thin line between politics and the conservation of the Mau Forest. The policy recommendations made by the study are; one, all policies and regulations on environmental/forest conservation are harmonized to remove ambiguity and thus safeguard the forests. And two that in order for the conservation of the Mau Forest not to be part of political duels in the citizens should be sensitized on importance of forests in the ecosystem and also involve both the political class and the opinion leaders in decision making process.
University of Nairobi