Economic Assessment of Different Management Approaches of Kakamega Forest in Kenya: Cost-benefit and Local Community Satisfaction Analysis
Guthiga, P M
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Kakamega forest, the only tropical rainforest in Kenya is divided into three different parts each under a distinct management approach: a state-led incentive-based approach of the Forest department (FD), a privately-owned incentive-based approach of a local Quakers church mission (QCM) and a state-led protectionist approach of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Since conservation involves use of resources and distribution of resulting benefits, economic concerns require that resources be allocated in a way that generates maximum net benefits. In addition, understanding the distribution of costs and benefits of conservation among stakeholders is important for informing equity decisions. Cooperation and support of communities living close to forests is essential for ensuring success of conservation efforts. However, more often than not, views of local communities are not systematically elicited, analyzed and incorporated in conservation decisions. The study applied the framework of cost-benefit analysis to analyze the economic efficiency and to compare the distribution of costs and benefits among stakeholders under the three management approaches at the local, national and global levels. The study further applied the concept of consumer satisfaction to analyze local community satisfaction levels with, and their perceptions of the three management approaches and factors influencing them. Further the study investigated the relative importance of different aspects of forest management offered by forest management agencies to the overall satisfaction of local communities. The results indicate that from a global point of view, the three management approaches are economically efficient. However, from the local and national perspective, the opportunity costs of conserving the forest outweigh the benefits. The protectionist approach was ranked highest overall for its performance in forest management by the local communities. Educated households and those located far from market centers were more likely to be dissatisfied with all the three management approaches. The location of the households from the forest margin influences negatively the satisfaction with the protectionist approach whereas land size had a similar effect on the private incentive-based approach of the QCM. In general, the three management approaches are perceived in terms of; involvement in decision-making processes, forest extraction and other mitigation measures and conservation incentives offered in order of importance. Regression results showed that these perceptions were influenced by different sets of demographic and socio-economic factors across the three management approaches. To correct the skewed burden of conservation costs, appropriate compensatory mechanisms are needed. Measures should be taken to enhance more participation of people in conservation processes by all the three management approaches. The overall national development goals of increasing income earning opportunities by integrating communities in modern economy and of promoting education could increase their satisfaction with conservation efforts.