Forest Conservation and Utilization in Embobut, Cherangani Hills, Kenya

Brian Rotich

2019

Embobut forest is a constituent block of the Cherangani hills ecosystem, which entails the five major water towers in Kenya and home to the indigenous hunters and gatherers-the Cherangany/Sengwer community. This study aimed at investigating forest utilization and conservation in Embobut, Cherangani hills in the western part of Kenya. Data was collected using questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and Key Informant Interviews (KII) and analysis done using Microsoft office excel 2013. A total of 42 respondents living inside and within a radius of 5 Kilometers from the forest were sampled for the study. Research findings indicated that 95.2% of the respondents benefited from the forest with fuel wood being the most harvested forest product (71.4%). Honey (26.2%) and herbal medicine (21.4%) were the second and third most harvested products from the forest. Other benefits and products obtained from the forest included grazing, building poles, wild fruits, and bush meat. Despite the conservation efforts by community members and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a number of conservation challenges existed in the study area including illegal grazing, illegal logging, charcoal burning, forest fires and encroachment into the forest. The researcher therefore recommends the Implementation of the Cherangani hills Forest Strategic Management Plan (2015-2040) to address the existing challenges. Integration of the indigenous communities into the political processes especially around land-use issues and forest management will also be critical to ensuring their future well-being while concurrently achieving conservation goals.

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