Planning and conservation strategy of Karura forest, the city of Nairobi, Kenya
The purpose of the study was to investigate the practice of Urban Forestry. This was necessitated by the revelation, from the press and other members of public that the allocation of forest land for other land uses was taking place at a high rate. For along time neither economists nor decision-makers have fully acknowledged the subsistence value of forests or considered livelihood dependence to be a factor in forest conservation. Yet information about domestic forest use values and their role in local livelihoods forms an integral part of forest conservation planning. In spite of the value of urban forestry, it has not been given the attention it deserves. Karura Forest is rich and diverse "island" encircled by even more threatening waves of human and ecological pressures. If we wish to save it, and continue to benefit and profit from essential product and services it provides us, then the forest warrants our urgent and constant attention. Therefore, this formed the basis for the study. The research used both primary and secondary sources of data. These included scheduled interviews, questionnaire interviews, focus group discussion and key informants. Findings from this study indicates that the practice of Urban Forestry is done for a variety of reasons, namely to obtain fuel wood, greening effect recreation and climate modification. It also established that contrary to the legal provisions NCC played no active role as regards to UF unlike MENR. The study further reveals major changes in land cover; this includes changes in the proportions of land area under cover from 1, 041 hectares to 564.14 hectares, representing a 46 percent decline in forest cover. The study especially noted that lack of harmony in various Land Laws has led to the forest degradation. In this respect the study takes particular note that there is forestland use change process from forestry to residential use. The study arrives at the conclusion that land use change in the study area is evolving in such a way to constitute urban sprawl, which should draw special attention of urban planners and conservationists in the study area. The study makes further recommendations to amend and harmonize the existing land laws and especially those, which are relevant to the practice of Urban Forestry, should be reviewed accordingly to effect this proposal. The study further proposes that the Commissioner of Lands, Director of Physical Planning, and The Forest Conservator and other similar officers should be given security of tenure so that they are in a position to make independent judgement or decisions without fear or favour. On a strong note the study proposes that no further change of user should be allowed, the allocated land that has not been developed should be surrendered back to the government and major reforestation programmes be undertaken in the study area. Finally, the study identifies the need for zoning map, which will form the basis for management of the area based on the conditions of the forest in various zones.