Consumption of non timber forest products (NTFPs) in Kakamega forest, Western Kenya: accessibility, role and value to resident rural households
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Dependency on natural resources in the ‘commons’ still ranks very high among rural communities in many developing countries. Kakamega forest in Kenya is one example of a local ‘common’ that supports a huge rural population. The forest is a high biodiversity area and for generations has been an important source of local people’s livelihoods. The forest is managed by three distinct organizations. The objective of this paper is to investigate the importance of Kakamega forest as a ‘common resource’ to surrounding households for nontimber products (NTFPs) such as firewood, herbal medicines, pastures and thatch grass for construction and maintenance of shelters by estimating economic value accruing to each household using direct pricing (DPM) and cost of collection (CoC) methods. Results are derived from a survey of 201 randomly selected households that was conducted in October-December 2006. Findings showed existence of a variety of NTFPs that are of great importance to local households’ livelihoods. Extraction challenges emanating from the different management approaches of the forest were also evident. The study makes a number of conclusions that can inform policy geared to fostering of collaborative management arrangements that can optimize conservation and sustainable use of Kakamega forest.