Can stumps tell what people want: Pattern and preference of informal wood extraction in an urban forest of Nairobi, Kenya
Kiboi, S K
Mutiso, Chalo PB
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Detailed patterns and preferences of informal wood extraction were investigated in an urban forest used by slum inhabitants of Nairobi, Kenya, as such information determines the sustainability of resource use. Instead of asking the people what they had secretly cut, a survey was conducted of the stumps and trees left in the forest to (i) evaluate how accessibility and patrolling affected spatial patterns of resource use, and to (ii) estimate a broad spectrum of species and species-specific size preferences. Both probability and size of cutting increased with better accessibility (represented by distance from the slum), and stump size exceeded that of living stem size around 1.7 km from the slum, which suggested magnified impact of tree cutting near the slum. Patrolling (represented by distance from ranger stations) had little effect in reducing the probability of cutting but was effective in reducing cut size. With the use of random effect models, a broad species preference spectrum (including less abundant and non-preferred species) was estimated, which indicated trends in vegetation change. Smaller stems were preferred for most species presumably used for domestic fuelwood, but major exploitation of large Brachylaena huillensis stems traded in the woodcarving industry was also revealed. Such detailed information on informal wood use can help forest managers to understand threats to the forests as well as the needs of local communities. This is a first step to redefining ‘acceptable’ resource use by the local community for their increased role and responsibility in sustainable forest management, especially when conventional controls of informal activities (i.e. exclusion and penalty) are not functioning well.