Environmental implications of the charcoal business in Narok-south sub-county, Narok county
Tesot, Absolom Kibet
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The forest cover in Kenya which is below the international required standard of 10% coverage is rapidly becoming depleted due to the ever increasing human demand for fuel wood. Unsustainable exploitation of forest resources for commercial charcoal production is a worrying phenomenon in Narok-South Sub-County, Narok County of Kenya. The fast disappearance of tree cover may influence climate change which may in the long run affect crop yields, tourism activities and deepen poverty levels, of which Narok County is not an exception. The research covered Narok-South Sub-County commercial charcoal production areas as the study area. The study assumed a descriptive design which employed Pre field work, Field work, Review of relevant documents, Data collection, analysis and interpretation as study approaches. The study aimed at assessing the socio-economic impacts of charcoal enterprise in Narok-South Sub-County, Narok County, the sustainability of the charcoal business, to examine the environmental implications of charcoal production in the Sub-County, and to come up with recommendations on sustainable management of charcoal business in Narok-South-Sub-County. The study found out that the charcoal enterprise activities as currently practiced in Narok south sub county is unsustainable The annual estimation was informed by the response of majority (76%) of the charcoal producers, who engage in production at all times throughout the year. According to the 50 charcoal producers surveyed, an estimated 28,800 bags of charcoals each weighing 50kg on average are produced over the course of the year, this is equivalent to 1440 tonnes. The ACACIA xanthaphloea trees locally known as „Olerai‟ is an important food stock for livestock are vastly harvested for charcoal production making the community vulnerable to drought effects. The other tree species preferred for charcoal production include: ACACIA lahal, OLEA Africans, WARBUGIA ugandensis, TARCHONANTHUS camphorates, and EUCLEA schimperi. This has led to forest cover reduction and environmental degradation and is a threat to biological diversity in the area which attracts tourists. Although commercial charcoal production and movement has been banned in the study area, the main factors driving the enterprise are land clearance and the socio-economic benefits associated with charcoal industry. Data analysis was done using statistical package for social sciences software (SPSS) Version 20. Presentation involved use of tables, charts and graphs.