Community Forest Associations Boundaries and Sustainable Forest Management in Loita Forest, Narok County, Kenya

Kiramba Lestan Kimiri *

Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University, P.O. Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

Felix L. M. Ming’ate

Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University, P.O. Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

Eric M. Kioko

Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University, P.O. Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Abstract

The Kenya Forest Act of 2005, subsequently revised in 2016, introduced the Kenya Forest Service and its mandate to engage in Participatory Forest Management (PFM) agreements with local communities adjoining state forests. This framework necessitated the establishment of Community Forest Associations (CFAs) nationwide, including the Loita Community Forest Association. However, a prevailing concern surrounding CFAs is the delineation and redefinition of boundaries, an issue that has gained prominence due to Kenya's decentralized forest governance system and the ambiguity surrounding the management of locally-held common resources. This study centers on investigating the process of establishing boundaries for the CFAs both in forest resources and the users within Loita Forest in Narok County, Kenya. Notably, Loita forest operates under a Traditional Participatory Forest arrangement, controlled by community elders, led by the revered Oloibon, who steers the resource utilization decisions. The vast expanse of Loita forest encompasses both lush woodlands and savanna landscapes. Employing purposive sampling, the study engaged 52 respondents from nine distinct Loita sub-locations. Key informants were interviewed individually, complemented with focus group discussions conducted with the use of semi-structured questions. Participant observation further enriched data collection, consolidating insights from key informants and group discussions. Collected data was meticulously tape-recorded and subjected to summative content analysis. The inquiry delved into the practicality of existing traditional resource-use boundaries, the adequacy of governmental regulations, policies, and institutions in elevating forest governance within Kenya, and the extent to which individual indigenous rights have been upheld in managing and using communal forest resources. Key findings of this study show that the Loita Maasai still values their traditional norms and have great respect for cultural institutions. Major decisions concerning the management of Loita forest are made by the council of elders led by the Chief Laibon. The study also found that there exists no CFA in Loita forest and that the presence of government institutions in the forest is minimal. This study's outcomes contribute to a nuanced understanding of the intricate interplay between indigenous wisdom, modern frameworks, and sustainable forest management. It underscores the indispensable role of tradition in shaping boundaries, governance, and ecological equilibrium within Loita forest and offers practical directives for future forest management endeavors.

Keywords: Community forest association, forest management, indigenous knowledge, loita, sustainability


How to Cite

Kimiri , Kiramba Lestan, Felix L. M. Ming’ate, and Eric M. Kioko. 2023. “Community Forest Associations Boundaries and Sustainable Forest Management in Loita Forest, Narok County, Kenya”. Asian Journal of Geographical Research 6 (4):17-31. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajgr/2023/v6i4200.

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