Forest resource valuation: a case study of Nuu and Iveti hills in Eastern province of Kenya
Wang'ombe, Esther Muringo
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In Kenya, forest resources are thought to make a major contribution to the livelihoods of forest-adjacent communities, yet this role is not adequately recognised and incorporated in planning and decision-making processes. Forests however, can also incur substantial economic costs to communities in that the presence of forests and woodlands interfere with other economic activities at the local level. Case studies of forest resource use in two separate areas differing in economic and development status and climatic factors, were conducted around Nuu hill in Mwingi and Iveti hill in Machakos districts, both in Eastern province of Kenya. The study aimed at identifying and valuing the benefits the local community derive from Nuu and Iveti hill forests, and also identifying the role the forestadjacent community play in forest conservation, as well as the costs incurred in forest conservation. The study used household units within the randomly selected forestadjacent villages as the sampling frame. Household rosters for the study sites were compiled by asking local village elders to name the household heads under their jurisdiction. From this list, a sample of households was randomly selected. A crosssectional survey type was adopted due to the scarce resources available for the fieldwork. Quantitative data were collected using household based questionnaire. Farm gate prices were used to determine the value of forest resources to local communities while the indirect opportunity cost of time was used to determine the cost of labour. Constructed market approach was used to estimate the value of perceived indirect forest conservation benefits. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used for analysing the data. The results obtained show that 63% and 33% of the respondents around Nuu hill and Iveti hill respectively, derive one or more products from the forest. Sale of forest-based products contributes income to 33% and 2% of the respondents around Nuu hill and Iveti hill respectively. All the respondents from both study sites declared that the forests on the hills play both direct and indirect roles in sustaining the livelihoods of the local communities. The local communities from both study sites suffer from reduced on-farm crop production due to crop raid by forest fauna. The respondents gave an annual estimate loss of Kshs 130000.00 due to the presence of Nuu hill forest, and an annual loss of Kshs 210000.00 due to the presence of Iveti hill forest. The total net economic value of Nuu hill is estimated at Kshs 1.4 million, while that for Iveti hill is Kshs 0.5million. Forests are ware houses to important goods and services, which hold economic value to the local communities. Further research is still required in order to ensure sustainable forest management that does not compromise local communities values regarding forest resources. There is also need to conduct further research on the impact of macroeconomic policies on local level forest resource utilisation.