Using Satellite Data as a Tool to Monitor Compliance and Enforcement of Forest Conservation Regulations: Karura Forest, Nairobi County.
Macharia, Antony Gakobo
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Conservation is important in maintaining the natural biodiversity fabric of a given ecosystem. Although remote sensing methods and techniques using satellite data have been useful tool in monitoring and mapping Environmental risks and disasters, as well as in environmental protection projects, they are scarcely used in environmental legislation implementation in Kenya. Karura Forest reserve covering 1041.3 hectares and located North of Central Nairobi County is one of the largest gazetted forests in the world that is fully within a City boundary limit. It is rich with flora and fauna considered a national Heritage now under protection but which is under threat from anthropogenic impacts due to encroachment and constant excision by the government itself. This study sought to show the capability of satellite data as a tool that can be used to monitor the losses Karura forest experiences and its potential to assess compliance and enforcement of forest conservation regulations. This was done using satellite data of different time series to map the encroachment in Karura Forest over time. Satellite images of 30 meter resolution from Landsat TM 2000, 10 meter resolution from Alos 2010 and 5 meter resolution from Quick Bird 2013 were used for this study. Detected changes in all the three epochs were mapped out and where applicable field verification was done on site Interview schedules were administered to key institutions to assess the level of awareness on the use of satellite data as a tool to monitor compliance and enforcement of forest regulations. Data obtained from the interview schedules were analyzed and tabulated to give a clear picture of the institutions that have been allocated land inside Karura forest. This was necessary to give a clear direction on how the forest management values the conservation reserve and the weaknesses/strengths of forest legislation in place. Satellite data was used to map the built Environment inside Karura forest and ground truething was done to tell the owners other noticeable changes inside the forest like vegetation clearing noticed during the field survey were photographed and the changes mapped out in the subsequent satellite images where they were equally detected between 2000 and 2014. Analysis of the results revealed that the total area occupied by institutions in 2000 was 138.81 ha (13.31%) and 181.11 ha (17.39%). in 2010, representing a change of 4.08% within 10 years. It also revealed that there is 100% awareness level of the use of satellite data as a tool for monitoring forest regulations. The hypotheses that the forest management is unable to contain forest loss because they lack and/or they do not make use of information based decision making tools, was rejected on the basis of high level of awareness by the management of Karura forest to use satellite data in monitoring compliance and enforcement of forest regulations. The study objectives were met and recommendations made on how to integrate satellite data technology in monitoring compliance and enforcement of forest regulation in Karura forest. A proposed integrated use of Satellite data in Forest management was the climax of this study. The proposal recommended the use of satellite data in all forest management programs and for periodical monitoring of forest activities using high resolution satellite data for non-compliance of enforcement of forest regulations. The proposal also recommended the use of satellite data in environmental studies in institutions of learning to equip the environmental students and planners with the knowledge of using satellite data and Gis to manage the forest and other ecosystems.