Determinants of participatory forest management on conservation of Karura forest, in Nairobi county, Kenya
play an important role in supporting livelihood of people and biodiversity. However, the concept of the importance of conserving forests, as well as being part of the initiatives that promote conservation of forests is yet to be understood by some communities and individuals, because of their varied interests in the resource. This has led to more use of the forest resources, than they can be replenished, causing deforestation. Studies have shown that communities that live in close proximity to the forests are the ones who mostly benefit from the natural resource, but are also the ones who are majorly affected by policies and regulations that give more power to the “rich” in the society, in forest resource use access. The purpose of this study was to assess how participatory forest management has influenced conservation of forests, while also looking at some of the factors that determine the engagement and productivity of communities in participating in conservation of forests. The study employed the descriptive survey design. The target population was 875, with 425 being community households, and 450 being forest management staff. The sample size was 269 based on the Krejcie and Morgan procedure, of which 99, were forest management staff respondents, who were selected using the purposive sampling technique, while the remaining 170 were community household respondents, selected through the systematic random sampling technique. The main instrument to be used in the study were questionnaires, whose reliability testing was be done using internal-consistency technique, which was based on the Cronbach Alpha method of analysis. The method of data collection was done through administering of questionnaires to respondents, with both closed and open ended questions, which was then collected back and collated for analysis. The data analysis technique to be used in this study was descriptive statistics, where the data was collated, coded and entered into SPSS system software. Quantitative data was presented using percentages, graphs, and frequency distribution tables, while the qualitative data was be presented in verbatim statements, by quoting the exact responses given by the respondents. Findings from the study revealed that the government was the leading stakeholder involved in participatory forest management of the forest at (63.2%), followed by NGO‟s at (43%), while religious (10%) and learning institutions (22%) played the least roles. The study also found that one‟s income level does influence the conservation of the forest, i.e, majority of the respondents earn below 10,000, (40%), with their major source of energy being fuel-wood (52.4%), which means that the lower the income levels, the higher the pressure on the forest resources as they are deemed affordable. The study also found out that women are more involved (31.5%) in conservation of the forest compared to men at (15.5%). However, the study also revealed that there are more male leaders (58%) compared to female leaders (43%) in the forest sector, an indication that women are still shy to be in command of forest related activities, as stereotyping also plays and important in the reluctance of women in taking leadership roles in the conservation of the forest. The study also revealed that communities are mostly aware of the rules and regulations that affect them directly such as charcoal rules (60.7%), but have very limited knowledge on other general forest rules and regulations. Based on the findings above, the study recommends more community and stakeholder empowerment towards conservation of the forest. Programmes targeting women and girls from the community as well the management personnel should be encouraged, in order to create confidence on female leadership in forestry. Furthermore, community needs and views need to considered when establishing rules and regulations, so as to ensure that their interests in the stipulated laws. There is need for transparency in stakeholder involvement and equity, in order to avoid conflicts such as power and resource sharing, as well as land grabbing conflicts.