KERICHO, Kenya, Jul 2 – The government has partnered with a Dutch Non-Governmental Organisation in a fresh attempt to stop the destruction and encroachment of the economically-sensitive Mau forest complex.
The partnership with the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes [ISLA] will cover Kericho, Bomet and Nakuru Counties – which are home to the Mau complex – at a cost of Sh220 million.
The project was launched in Kericho by Bomet governor Isaac Ruto, his Kericho counterpart, Paul Chepkwony and representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
ISLA is an initiative that brings together coalitions of public and private stakeholders to jointly formulate and invest in sustainable land and water management. It is currently active in six landscapes around the world, in a three year plan that seeks to establish financially viable public private governance models for each of the six landscapes. The Kenyan project seeks to restore the economic impact of the Mau complex for the local residents and the country.
“We plan to create a compelling dialogue between all the stakeholders because we realize that this region supports the production of key agricultural commodities such as Kenya’s world famous tea, subsistence crops such as maize and beans and livestock,” Kipkirui Lang’at, the Convener, ISLA South West Mau initiative told the function.
“Considering the high demand, it has become challenging to cater for everyone’s energy needs without compromising environmental and health quality,” he added.
This new initiative is being spearheaded by the government, county governments of Nakuru, Bomet and Kericho and the Initiative for Sustainable landscapes [ISLA].
“The area has a strong internationally recognized role in certified tea production, which provides local small holders the opportunity to have access to international markets,” Winnie Mwaniki, the ISLA program manager told the function.
The initiative to save the MAU will come as a key boost especially to the tea subsector, where Kenyan tea exports account for slightly more than 20 percent of the world tea production, with a significant amount of this amount being exported to the lucrative markets of Europe and USA.
This and other agricultural activities depend on the local microclimate moderated by the Mau forest complex which if destroyed would mean changing weather patterns and negative impact on production of crops and livestock. Over the last one decade, an estimated 25 percent of the Mau forest has been lost due to human encroachment and excisions.
Research done by ISLA found out that the Mau complex is facing key challenges such as illegal extraction of the forest resources for commercial purposes especially timber, wood fuel, charcoal, unregulated cattle grazing, land resettlements and unsustainable use of forest resources by local communities. But under the new initiative, the county governments, the national government and ISLA will introduce a number of initiatives that will put a stop to these destructive tendencies.
The Mau Complex forms the largest Closed canopy forest ecosystem of Kenya, as large as The forests of Mt Kenya and the Aberdare combined. It is the single most important water catchment in Rift Valley and western Kenya.