An assessment of patterns of vegetative resource extraction within south-eastern edge of Chyulu National Park, Makueni County, Kenya
Muendo, Nicholas Mwongela
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As the world‘s population continues to increase at unprecedented rate, demand for food and economic development has continued to exert pressure on the natural resources. In Tsitsikamma National park, South Africa, locals practice illegal activities. In Kenya conservation is an increasing challenge partly because of exclusion of local community and population increase. The purpose of the study was to assess the patterns of vegetative resource extraction within South Eastern edge of Chyulu National Park (CNP); which lies on the slopes of Chyulu Hills in Makueni County. The specific objectives of this study were; to investigate how the socio-economic characteristics of local community influence public participation in the management of CNP; to establish the role played by different socio-economic segments of the population in extraction of resources from CNP; to determine the extent of extraction and demand for resources by communities bordering CNP. The study used stratified random sampling, where 210 households in the 4 study villages were interviewed using a questionnaire and semi structured interview. Data collected was coded, and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Data was presented in form of tables, bar graphs, and pie charts. The findings of t his research indicated that 9 trees were illegally harvested per km of boundary, 33 illegal human entry trails were found in 30 km boundary adjacent to the study villages. On average, 76 cows, 73 goats and 1 donkey were observed grazing inside the park per kilometre of boundary. There were 6 charcoal-making kilns and operations, 8 evidences of boundary encroachment, and 16 scars of fire per km of boundary measured. The study revealed that 63% of the respondents needed firewood from the park, 59% desired construction poles, 24% required charcoal, 77% were in need of grass, and 24% demanded medicinal plants from the Park. Of the extraction of resources from the Park; 47% extracted firewood, 42% extracted charcoal, 24% extracted construction poles, 57% extracted grass, and 5% extracted miraa. From the study, 90% of the respondents mentioned farming as their major source of income while only 5% were pastoralists and business people, with a majority (87%) of them earning a monthly income of less than Kshs. 5,000. The study established through Chi-square test statistic that there was no significant relationship between extraction and demand for park resources from CNP; the socio-economic characteristic of the population did not significantly influence the public participation in management of the park; and that resource extraction within CNP do not differ significantly among different socio-economic segment of the population. The study concluded that the human disturbances indicators were found to cluster and be spatially coherent, identifying hotspots for extraction of particular resources. The most wanted and extracted resource was fuel wood and construction poles, conservation enthusiasts need to concentrate on solutions that address the socio-economic realities of people adjacent PAs, and natural resource governance is a function of socio-economic characteristics that enable communities to manage PAs resources together. The study recommended that, among others, development programme agencies should adopt proven innovation such as fuel saving or non-wood dependent cooking technologies to reduce the amount of wood consumed; the locals should be encouraged to cultivate fast growing trees for firewood charcoal and construction poles.