FAO/GEF Project gifts Kenya with forest conservation utilities and equipment

The Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau, on Thursday, February 17, 2022, presided over the handover of forest conservation utilities and equipment from the FAO/GEF Project to support the conservation and management of Kirisia/leroghi forest reserve in Samburu County.

The equipment includes; two (2) watch towers installed within the 91,000 Ha forest ecosystem at a cost of Kenya shillings 6 million, a tractor fitted with a hydraulic trailer and water bowser to support tree nursery and planting activities, and four (4) motorcycles to support forest patrols by both KFS Rangers and community scouts.

Speaking during the handover the CCF, who was joined by Mr Hamisi Williams (FAO Assistant Country Representative) and Hon Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West Member of Parliament) appreciated the support from the project whom he thanked for walking the journey with the Service by supporting conservation activities within Kirisia forest.

He further noted that the watchtowers will facilitate the early detection of wildfires and also support other security surveillance activities within the forest ecosystem.

The CCF also noted that the tractor will support ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the restoration of degraded forest areas within the ecosystem following a voluntary vacation from the forest by communities in 2019.

"The tractor and its implements will support KFS nurseries and other established community nurseries," noted Mr Kamau.

Mr Kamau also acknowledged that the Service enjoys support from the community members who have been at the forefront in protecting the forest resources. Kamau however urged the locals surrounding the forest to avoid illegal activities such as charcoal burning, adding that they should utilise forest resources through legally allowed forest user rights. Such rights include grazing, beekeeping among other non-extractive income-generating activities allowed under Forest Laws.

The CCF also pointed to the Service improving forest accessibility through the construction of a road network that will act both as a fire break and access route to enable effective management of the forest. He thus called for financial support from the project and local administration to that effect.

On her part, Hon Lesuuda, while appreciating KFS efforts in conserving the forest and working with the community, she reiterated the importance of letting KFS continue protecting forest resources without political interferences and called on her colleagues in parliament to reject any attempt to water down forest protection legislation already in place, noting the gains achieved through the current Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.

The FAO noted the centrality of forest adjacent communities in forest conservation and pledged to continue supporting the Service to achieve its mandate to raise the national tree cover and consolidate the gains already made in Samburu County.

During the exercise, the CCF also inspected ongoing income-generating activities by communities under the Naramat CFA who have enjoyed three harvest seasons from over 50 beehives donated by KFS. He also appreciated a community tree nursery run by a local women group that currently has 24,000 plantable indigenous tree seedlings.

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