EFFECTS OF COMMUNITY FOREST ASSOCIATION ON MANAGEMENT, CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF FOREST RESOURCES IN NORTH NANDI FOREST, KENYA
Muskiton, Chepkonga Kenneth
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A key feature of forest conservation and management is the practice of Participatory Forest Management (PFM). In PFM there is inclusion and collaboration with the local community members in managing and conserving forest resources mostly through the adjacent forest community, commonly referred to as Community Forest Association ‘(CFA)’. However, to date, most of the objectives of CFA on achieving management and conservation of forest resources are rarely met. This study assessed the effects of community forest association on management and conservation of plants, mammals and birds with a specific focus on local community sustainable forest utilization, forest structure, status of threatened biodiversity (plants and animals) conservation in North Nandi Forest. A Stratified systematic sampling method was employed to capture the relevant data. The study surveyed mammals’ abundance using straight and parallel transects. Transects were 500m long with sample plots laid at an interval of 100 m and 60 m from the edge of each habitat. To determine the structure of the forest, tree diameters, and tree heights were measured and the total number of trees in the sample plots were counted along each transect line. Removal of forest produce along the transect lines was also noted during sampling. To determine the utilization of plants, a household survey was carried out on the households within the sampling sites. Primary data was collected using questionnaires as well as holding discussions with focus groups and key informants. To determine sustainable utilization of forest resources, data was analyzed using frequency distributions and percentages. The Ordination was used to examine spatial patterns in forest structure, animal as well as plant abundance relative to human variables highlighted by the CFA. Joint forest management between the government and the community, use of sensitization meetings through barazas, workshops or conferences, the involvement of indigenous people within and outside the forest and the use of county and national government policies to support the conservation and protection of North Nandi Forest were the most significant strategies for the forest management and protection. The study found out that monkeys (mammals), and Hornbills (birds) were the most dominant species in all the forest sites. This is an indication that both colobus and black monkeys inhabit North Nandi Forest. Large trees such as Olea capensis, Fagaropsis angolensis, Celtis africana, Cassipourea malosana, Syzygium cordatum, Diospyros abyssinica and Croton megalocarpus were illegally exploited for fencing posts, timber, fuelwood and herbal medicine. These illegal activities have reduced the number of these trees in the forest leaving invasive saplings such as Cestrum aurantiacum and Solanum mauritianum to take over large areas of the forest. From the analysis it is s recommended that well thought out policies on expansion of land for agriculture and other development activities, excision of forest for settlement and illegal cutting of trees for posts, charcoal, fuelwood and timber need to be put in place by both the national and county governments. In addition, there is need for strategies of controlling invasive plant species in North Nandi Forest. It is anticipated that the findings of this study will contribute to the development of recommendations for forest conservation interventions in Kenya.