NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – The formulation of Kenya’s first-ever National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy was launched on Monday.
Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary, Prof Judi Wakhungu, also the inaugurated a national steering committee to provide policy direction, high-level guidance and general oversight in the process, to ensure ownership and buy-in.
The committee is chaired by the Conservation Secretary Gideon Gathara.
The function at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Upper Hill, Nairobi, was attended by other government agencies, development partners, non-governmental organisations, and community representatives, representatives of various embassies in Nairobi as well as the US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
The launch of the formulation is in line with the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 and will be aligned to the Vision 2030 development blueprint and other relevant policy and legal frameworks, including SDGs, AICHI target 11, Medium Term Plan 3.
It comes shortly after finalising the national wildlife policy, which is before the National Assembly.
The five-year strategy (2018-2022) is intended to guide the country on how wildlife will be protected, conserved and managed and sustainably utilised taking into account the three land regimes – public, community and private lands in addition to the conservation models(s) and innovation and current challenges.
Specifically, the strategy will set national targets and indicators for viable and sustainable wildlife and habitat conservation over the coming decades, secure wildlife habitats, dispersal areas and corridors and promote evidence-based integrated planning to enhance wildlife conservation across terrestrial, fresh-water and marine environments, stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and strengthen the inter-agency collaboration in the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) in dealing with illegal wildlife trade.
It will also address and mitigate Human Wildlife Conflict, establish and implement national long-term wildlife conservation and management funding and monitoring and reporting systems; and strengthen cooperative management of wildlife resources by the national and County Governments, communities, individual landowners and other stakeholders.
Professor Wakhungu said the strategy will be expected to deal with chronic issues within the wildlife sector, including lack of recognition of wildlife as a land use and a major driver of the economy, increase in human wildlife conflicts, challenges in achieving an integrated wildlife management approach, degradation and fragmentation of habitats and loss of ecosystem functions, effects of climate change.
She said it would also address the spread of invasive species and outbreaks of epizootic diseases, unco-ordinated research in wildlife conservation, lack of coordinated enactment of sectoral policies in natural resource governance, insufficient and uncoordinated funding to wildlife conservation and management.
Wakhungu said the strategy should “recognise the emerging opportunities that exist in wildlife land use by promoting participatory land use planning in wildlife corridors and dispersal areas in community and private land; providing innovative benefit sharing and conflict resolution mechanisms and engaging in social contracts with communities to increase spacer for wildlife with shared liabilities.
“It should also explore innovative ways of education and awareness not only to our communities but to various ties of our government to reduce conflicting sectoral policies and adequate financial support to our conservation agenda,” she added.
The State Department of Natural Resources Principal Secretary Dr Margaret Mwakima said various challenges and threats facing wildlife conservation are in captured various documents, including KWS Policy Framework and Five-Year Development Program (1991), The Wildlife Security Taskforce Report (2014, the Draft Wildlife Policy (2017), the Strategy Scoping Report (2016) and the Draft Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy (2017).
Mwakima said the strategy would consider the underlying drivers to these threats such land use change, urbanisation, human population increase, agricultural expansion and intensification, climate change and extreme events and come up with a framework to implement within the next five years.
The strategy formulation process is being spearheaded and coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development though a cooperative agreement signed between the U.S. Department of Interior and The African Conservation Centre for technical and financial cooperation.
This process will build on past and present policies, practices, regulations, amendments, and strategies to ensure coherence.
The process will review existing strategies and document best practices nationally and internationally, use focus group discussions, seek technical input from experts, organise key stakeholder consultations and broad public participation.
Meetings covering all the 47 counties have been convened beginning with Nairobi (June 19), Nanyuki (June 22), Wajir (June 29), Kisumu (June 30), Nakuru (July 3) and Mombasa July 5.
Last week Prof Wakhungu also published a gazette notice on the process calling on the public to submit written memoranda.