Communities living adjacent to the Mau Forest Complex in Narok and Bomet Counties have signed a five-year agreement with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) that will enable them to sustainably manage the forest as they benefit from its resources.
Four Community Forest Associations (CFA) namely; Nyangores, Olenguruone, Olpusimoru, and Nairotia signed a Participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) 2023-2027, which will help them to participate in sustainably conserving the mega water towers.
The function was led by Deputy Chief Conservator Beatrice Mbula who said the management structures provide a legal platform to allow the community living near the forest land to benefit from the forest as they conserve it.
She thanked the World Wide Fund for Nature Keya (WWF-Kenya) for working in partnership with KFS and the community to develop the plan that will run from 2023 to 2027.
“We will give all support needed to the CFA so that they can protect and benefit from the forest. If we walk alone, we will not go far, but if we walk with you, we will go far,” said the Deputy Chief Conservator.
In the past, she said, the Mau Forest has suffered from degradation as a result of encroachment and illegal extraction of forest resources hence the need for participatory forest management to ensure that forests are rehabilitated and sustainably managed in the long run.
At the same time, she called on individuals and institutions to take advantage of the ongoing grains to set up tree seedbeds saying about 225, 000 tree seedlings have been planted in Narok County this week.
“KFS gave only 30, 000 seedlings for planting during the National Trees Planting Holiday, the other number was sourced from private tree nurseries. This means organizations that have ready tree nurseries are earning a huge profit,” she reiterated.
WWF- Kenya Project Manager Kevin Gichagi said his organization facilitated the development of PFMP for each of the four CFA to enable co-management of forest resources between the forest adjacent community and KFS.
He said that his organization will continue participating in facilitating the implementation of the signed plans to sustainably manage the forest and provide sustainable livelihoods for the forest adjacent communities.
Rift Valley Region Deputy Ecosystem Conservator Humphrey Okumu called on the Maa community to plant trees in their big chunk of land during this rainy season.
He revealed that 275 people had been arrested in the last year for being found illegally in the Maasai Mau Forest adding that the government is very serious in conserving the mega water catchment land.
Assistant County Commissioner in the Bomet County Commissioner’s office Ms Rehema Kitito said the KFS rangers employed by the government recently have helped in protecting the forest from destruction.
She reiterated that her office will continue working with the relevant stakeholders to protect the forests by ensuring the enforcement of the law.
The function was held at Masese Forest Station and attended, by Narok Ecosystem Conservator Daniel Mkung, Singorwet Member of County Assembly Josphat Kipkirui, and members of the public.
Maasai Mau forest is about 46, 000 hectares and extends to Bomet and Nakuru counties, but is managed by the Narok Forest Office.