Kenya is endowed with a wide range of forest ecosystems ranging from montane rainforests, savannah woodlands; dry forests and coastal forests and mangroves. The current forest cover of 6.99% of the land area of the country is still below the constitutional requirement of 10%. These forests have high species richness and endemism, which has made the country be classified as mega diverse. They rank high as the country’s natural asset, due to their environmental, life supporting functions, and the provision of diverse good and services.

Participatory Forest Management was realized with enactment of the Forest Act 2005, Kenya embraced Participatory Forest Management(PFM) as an approach towards achieving sustainable forest management.  PART IV Section 46 to 49 of the Forest Act 2005 provides for Community Participation in Forest Conservation and management of forests. It stipulates  how the communities apply  and engage in participation. The functions of community forest associations, assignment of forest user rights,  and how termination or variation of management agreement are stipulated in the forest Act 2005. Participatory Forest Management has further enabled  devolution of community forest conservation and management, enhancing implementation of national forest policies and strategies, deepening of community participation in forest management by the strengthening of community forest associations .

Participatory Forest Management strategic objective is to "Enhance conservation sustainable management and utilization of forests by improving livelihoods in rural areas" with  objectives  to: (1) Conserve biodiversity while enhancing people's livelihoods and (2) Ensure the sustainable use of forests.

Participatory Forst Management activities to;

  1. Develop policy guidelines for engagements of communities in livelihoods
  2. Strengthen Community Forestry Associations (CFAs) members through capacity building and outsourcing of services
  3. Empower CFAs and other natural resource community-based groups to implement participatory forest management plans
  4. Empower CFAs and other natural resource community-based groups to implement participatory forest management plans
  5. Support development of nature-based enterprises in rural areas
  6. Develop policy and framework for community forest association (CFA) engagement

Forest Policy  objectives and  general principles on Community Participation
The overall policy goal of participatory forest management  is sustainable development, management, utilization and conservation of forest resources and equitable sharing of accrued benefits for the present and future generations of the  forest adjacent communities and citizens at large.  The objectives of this policy are to:- Increase and maintain tree and forest cover of at least ten percent of the land area of Kenya.

Guiding principles  for community participation include;
Forest resource is a Public good: Taking into consideration the multiple roles played by forests, all forests shall be taken to serve a common good interest irrespective of ownership. This implies that any action taken in any forest shall be regulated to safeguard public interest.

Ecosystem approach: An integrated ecosystem approach to conserving and managing forest resources will be adopted and enhanced to ensure that all forest ecosystems are managed in an integrated manner for the benefit of the forest adjacent communities. 

Sustainable Forest Management (SFM): All forest resources shall be managed sustainably to yield social, economic and ecological goods and services for the current generation without compromising similar rights of future generations;   Good governance: The rule of law, effective institutions, access to information, transparency and accountability, professional ethics, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and the meaningful participation of citizens will be integrated in forest conservation and management.

Public participation: Participatory approaches in forest conservation and management will be enhanced to ensure that the relevant government agencies, county governments, private sector, civil society and communities are involved in planning, implementation and decision making processes.  Livelihood enhancement: Livelihood improvement with a focus on fighting poverty shall be a major consideration for all strategies and programmes in forest sector development.  Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights: Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights embodied in forest biodiversity and genetic resources will be harnessed and protected.

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