Kenya’s 2010 Constitution mandated the central and county governments to jointly manage the country’s Kenya’s forests. The central government assumed the responsibility of providing technical support, policy leadership and capacity building, while the counties took charge of the management of their respective forest resources, giving them the authority to ensure community rights and to redress long-standing land tenure and benefit sharing disputes.
The Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), an autonomous civil society watchdog hosted by the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS), has been working closely with the Kenya Forest Service and county governments to implement the Gazette Supplement No. 116 issued on 9th of August 2014 that provides for the devolution of forestry functions to county governments, including farm forestry extension services, forests and game reserves.
In June 2018, KFWG, working with various county governments, conducted a preliminary public consultation meeting in Bomet County on the formulation of a Bomet County Forest Conservation & Management Bill and Policy. This was necessitated by the need to provide county governments with a benchmark legal framework to execute their devolved forest management functions.
The drafting, validation and adoption of the Bomet County Forest Bill took place in two phases. Phase I involved the drafting the bill in consultation with the county legal team and other relevant stakeholders and the creation of a technical team for the Bomet County Forest Conservation and Management Bill.
Phase II involved further engagement with stakeholders and the creation of an effective policy brief. EAWLS/KFWG, the Bomet County Environment Department and the technical team of the Bomet County Forest Conservation and Management Bill organised a stakeholders’ workshop to scrutinize and enrich the bill and policy in readiness for its presentation to the county cabinet and public consultation.
The Bomet County Forest Conservation & Management Bill draft has since been presented to the public and is now being debated by the Bomet County assembly.
KFWG hopes that the ratification of this pioneering county forest bill will streamline the forest product value chain, provide a platform for communities to get involved in natural resource management and pave the way for more counties to adopt laws necessary for the execution of their forest management mandate.