Impacts of participatory forest management approach in ol bolossat forest, nyandarua county, kenya
Kinyili, Benjamin Mutuku
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Forests are valuable for environmental, ecological, cultural, social and economical support to natural systems and improvement of human welfare. The world‟s forest cover is estimated to be about 3.6 billion ha. Out of this portion, 57% is located in developing countries and indirectly supports about 1.6 billion people where at least 400 million are directly dependent on forest resources for their livelihood. Kenya is classified as a low forest cover country, where the closed canopy forest cover is less than 2% of total land area. Degradation and loss of forest cover has been attributed to competing land use from agriculture, human settlements and other infrastructural developments. There is therefore need to conserve forests to ensure sustainable supply of the forest goods and services. The main objective of this study was to assess the impacts of community participation on forest management and their effects on community livelihoods. Specifically, the study aimed at assessing the effectiveness of local structures and community participation in participatory forest management. Also, the study aimed at identifying forest based enterprises in the study area and challenges and opportunities that stand out during participatory forest management. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in data collection, analysis and presentation. Household questionnaires, semi-structured interviews with key informants and Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were used in data collection. Data analysis was done in Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Study findings were presented as tables, charts and in text form. In addition, multiple regression analysis, which was inferential procedure, was done. The findings showed that participatory forest management in Ol Bolossat forest has significant impacts on the livelihoods of adjacent communities. From the findings, it was found that there is a strong positive relationship between Participatory Forest Management (PFM) and community participation, community local structures, PFM enterprises, coordination of PFM activities and forest management and conservation policies. All the variables were found to be significant at . From the results, 75.8% of the Ol Bolossat forest adjacent communities were involved in PFM as registered members of Community Forest Association (CFA), hence creating stable and well functioning forestry governance structures. This observation implied that there was significant integration of community participation in forest management and conservation. Major products obtained from the forest by the communities are food through cultivation, fodder for livestock, firewood collection, among others. The Nature Based Enterprises (NBE) that the community was involved in included tree nursery seedlings production, bee-keeping, eco-tourism, fish farming among others. However, utilization of NBEs at Ol Bolossat forest was not optimum. Main challenges to PFM were lack of technical knowledge and information, poor management and voluntary work not being popular. The community, therefore, required training and capacity building on development, processing technologies, value addition and marketing of Non Wood Forest Products (NWFP) among others. This study, consequently, contributed in unraveling certain underlying impacts of the current PFM, community and stakeholders involvement on rural livelihood improvement. The study contributed to the existing knowledge and understanding of forest management, conservation and rural livelihood of the community adjacent to Ol Bolossat forest and governance in general. This knowledge will influence policy and decision making and can be up-scaled to other forests.