The Role of the Kenya Forest Service in the Management of Land Degradation and Environmental Conflict in the Mau Forest Complex
There is correlation on land degradation in reference to environment conflict against natural resources undocumented. Environmental conflicts mostly depend over human needs and issues such as distribution, allocation and natural resources management. History documents show how resource-based conflicts had contributed to highly destructive wars at Karamoja and Kagera regions of Uganda, Darfur in Sudan, in Rwanda genocide and even in the Niger Delta. Mau Forest Complex is Kenya’s important water tower. Important rivers that deplete in to Lake Victoria, such as Rive Nile the longest one in the world originate there. Yet this important resource has come under enormous human pressure, that lead to degradation and which is pregnant with the antecedents of conflict. In early 1993 and 1994, for example, plantations and forest areas were widely destroyed after a sequence of presidential decrees that allowed evicted settlement after the elimination of the ‘shamba’ system in 1987. On diverse date’s between1990s and 2000, a component of the Mau Forest Complex was excised to settle forest-dwelling communities with aim of conserving the remains of the forests. The aerial recommendation over Mau Complex destruction done in support of United Nations Environmental Program, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources on 7th May 2008 documented the amazing level of obliteration and degradation at Mau ecosystem. Thus, environmental conflict and land degradation at Mau Complex present a clear and present threat, to Kenya’s domestic political stability and achievements of its Vision of 2030 goals, even significant regional and global threats as well. Over 80% of land area in Kenya consists of arid and semi-arid lands with low population densities that depend on livestock to cater for their livelihood. 12% of Kenya’s land cover has suited climate with closed canopy forest, protected either under Forest Reserves under management of Kenya Forest Service or National Parks under management of Kenya Wildlife Service or trust land forests under management of Local Authorities. The study point out the general intention of the causes and manifestations of land degradation and environmental conflict at Mau Complex, how they affect the mandate and the work of the Kenya Forest Service. The study explored how conflicts may be prevented or resolved peacefully. Primary and secondary data were both used in the study. It used purposive and snowball selective sampling and interview respondents in the known categories in both main research sites. The quantitative and qualitative collected data has been presented according to the specific objectives of the study in the research. Weak institutional policies and poor enforcement of forest laws were noted as major drivers of Kenya’s forest cover change.
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