Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry has initiated a review of the country’s National Forest Policy with a view to amending the existing Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.
Subsequently, the East African Wild Life Society under the auspices of the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG) and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kenya office, convened two multi-stakeholder virtual meetings.
The forums, held on 22nd and 24th June 2020, brought together stakeholders in the forest, wildlife and water sub-sectors at county and national levels.
Some of the issues raised in the two meetings included:
• A disconnect between the objectives outlined in the National Forest Policy 2020 document and the actual policy statements – with objectives being too many and in some cases repetitive
• Inadequate information of how public participation was done
• The planned phase-out of the Plantation and Livelihoods Improvement Scheme (PELIS). There was concern that getting rid of PELIS will lead to the eviction of communities from forests that they have been involved in protecting. Such a move could lead to retaliation and destruction of forests.
EAWLS partnered with the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) to host a panel of experts on 30th June.
Key recommendations at the third meeting included:
1. Suggestions to flesh out the forest policy formulation process to clearly demonstrate linkages between sectors, targets, actors and objectives.
2. A review rather than abolishment of the PELIS system with suggestions that a substantive reform process be established to mitigate systemic corruption and institutional incompetency that have crippled the scheme.
3. Effective facilitation of community participation incentives through clear demarcation of county and national government roles. Youth involvement and gender balance must be strategically formulated with clear guidelines on how to mainstream and ease implementation.
4. Sustained engagement of the private sector as partners in forest conservation.
All the above issues and recommendations raised in the three meetings were consolidated into one document and submitted to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry.