Easements as a mechanism for conserving wildlife habitat outside protected areas in Kenya
Conservation of wildlife in Kenya is carried out mainly by establishing and maintaining protected areas in the form of national parks and reserves in which land use is restricted to ensure protection of the wild fauna and flora and their habitat. Outside the protected areas are lands that do not enjoy the same protection as protected areas but none the less contain important wildlife habitat and are critical to the continued viability of the protected areas. These lands are under a lot of pressure from development and population increases, resulting in the land being rapidly converted to agriculture among other uses. Change in land use outside protected areas causes loss of wildlife habitat and threatens even the viability of protected areas. The enactment of Kenya's framework law on the environment, the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, 1999 has provided an opportunity to protect the environment and natural resources using various instruments. The Act provides for the use of environmental easements as a mechanism to conserve natural resources' by imposing a restriction on the use of the land. This thesis examines the use of easements as an incentive-based mechanism and how they can be applied to conserve wildlife habitat outside protected areas by protecting it from conversion to other incompatible uses. It also examines how appropriate institutional frameworks and incentives can support the application of easements in Kenya. It argues that the use of land use laws and regulations that rely on policing and punishment for enforcement are inadequate for protecting wildlife habitat outside protected areas. Instead, environmetal easements are a viable and more appropriate mechanism that can be used with appropriate incentives to encourage landowners to conserve wildlife habitat outside protected areas. Key Words: Property Rights, Easements, Wildlife Habitat, Conservation.