The impact on Nairobi national park of changes in land use in adjacent areas
The future of wildlife in our conserved ecosystem depends largely on the future planning for land use in the adjacent areas. All National Parks and game reserves in Kenya, as they now exist, are in some degree or other dependent on the relationship between land use changes and wildlife in the areas sorrounding them. If the surrounding lands deteriorate through misuse, or if, in the management no consideration is given to wildlife, the national parks and game reserves will suffer, or,even be destroyed. Nairobi National Park pr~sents a-case in point. If this park has to survive, as it is, there must be a check of the land use changes in the Kitengela and Ngong hills are_as. There were three (3) specific objectives of this study. Firstly, to identify and, analyse the changes in land use which have been/or are taking place in the adjacent areas of Nairobi National Park since its establishment in 1946; secondly, to find out their main , impacts on the park and its immediate environment. Finally, to suggest an optimum land use system for the area that takes into account the ecological, social, economic, cultural a~d political factors at local, regional and national levels. one natural ecosystem. It was found that changes in From the study it was observed that Nairobi National Park, Kitengela area and Ngong hills form land use in the adjacent areas of Nairobi National Park have been taking place over along time but the pace has increased particularly, since independence. Six significant areas of land use changes, namely, changes in land tenure, livestock production, crop pro,uuct~on, urban settlement, rural settlement, , physical infrastructure, conservation and others were identified. It was found further that these changes in land use exercise impacts on the Park and its immediate environment. Specific impacts were realized on wildlife, vegetation and water resources. It was observed that a number of constraints and limitations, namely, high population growth rate, land tenure system, change in attitudes, rapid urban development, national government policies, departmenta~lization of the government bodies, lack of technical manpower, lack of equipments and lack of funds exist and may hinder future development in the area. The study proposes an integrated land use policy upon which Nairobi National Park, Athi Kaputei plains and Ngong hills can be planne~and managed as one ecosystem. Its aim is to identify areas of concentration for the different land use activities and interests and plan these as areas of land use specialization but maintaining a clear functional linkage between them so that, at the same time they are together capable of fun~tioning as an interrelated whole system. The study further suggests that a detailed study regarding the possibility of planning and managing Nairobi National Pa.rk as an "outdoor zoo", be undertaken by the wildlife planning unit in consultation with relevant experts as may be identified by the unit. Its aim should be to establish in more clear terms the feasibility or ,, otherwise of such a policy, and the advantages and disadvantages associated to it. As policy priorities, it is suggested that in order to create a strong public participation, the government should establish measures to provide the landowners who permit wildlife the use of their land resources with an economic incentive from wildlife conservation. Finally, we propose a need to constantly monitor the changes in land use and human population in the study area so that any trend representing a hazard to wildlife is observed and appropriate counteraction initiated in time. However, it is considered that the implementation of an integrated land use policy would ensure the continued viability of Nairobi National Park and other ecosystems in the country.