Factors influencing community participation in rehabilitation of degraded forests: a case of Mau Forest Ecosystem, Nakuru County, Kenya
Ikiugu, Cosmas K P
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The concept of environmental conservation has for the last ten years remained a global concern. Forests are the major components of the environment in terms of critical water catchment areas which includes forests and protected areas. Continued degradation of the Natural Ecosystems and the environmental in general has not only led to pollution of water bodies, contributed to the global warming but has resulted to loss of animal and human lives across the world. Due to the above serious effects, governments, research institutions, universities and environmental lobby groups have been addressing and trying to stream-line measures to mitigate the degradation of natural world ecosystems. The purpose of this study was to establish how communities living adjacent to forests can best participate in the rehabilitation and conservation of the degraded world forests and ensure not only that they are sustainably conserved and managed but they are properly utilized and contribute to improved livelihoods to community members through accruing benefits of conservation efforts. The objectives of the study were: to determine the influence of sensitization on community participation in rehabilitation and conservation of degraded forests; to examine how tree planting activities by communities influence their contribution to conservation of forests and to establish how enhanced quality of life of communities influence their contribution to rehabilitation of degraded forests and co-management activities in sustainable forest conservation. The study was supported by detailed literature review in chapter two. The study tried to establish the extent of how independent variables as stated in the conceptual frame work have influenced the dependent variable in Enderit Forest. The status of the forest in terms of vegetation cover in 2006 and the current status were compared. The study tried to establish relationship between independent variables that influence community participation to bring about enhanced rehabilitation of degraded forests and their continued sustainable conservation. The study used a population of 200 people consisting of a sample size of 138 people, with, 124 from CFA members and 14 from Kenya Forest Service staff at Sururu forest. Data was collected using questionnaires, records, interviews and general survey. The analysis of data was done by use of descriptive statistics. The findings were presented in frequencies and percentages using tables. The research findings have pointed out important lessons the Natural resource managers need to know: the communities are important in the rehabilitation of degraded forests and their sustainable conservation and what stake holders need to consider when engaging communities in conservation efforts. The study findings will be important to the Kenya Forest Service, Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources authorities, Researchers and all stake holders concerned with environmental and natural resources conservation.