The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has identified Nature Kenya to play a role in the formation of a Community Forest Association (CFA) at the Tana River Delta. In recognition of its engagement with the communities at the Tana Delta, KFS, through a letter, has invited Nature Kenya, among other conservation organizations, to assist in the establishment of the Tana Delta Community Forest Association. The association will oversee the sustainable management of over 70,000 hectares of gazetted community forestland.
“A recent rapid need survey and stakeholder profiling with the community identified your organization and several stakeholders actively involved with the biodiversity and ecosystem conservation as well as community livelihood as a core function,” read the letter.
“Such activities prototype the strategies spelt out in CFA as an instrument in sustainable forest management and development,” further read the letter signed by Abuto George Omolo, KFS’ Ecosystem Conservator for Tana River County.
The move follows the gazettement of 70,205.9 hectares of terrestrial and marine forest blocks contained in the Kenya Gazette legal notices 30, 31 and 32 of 2013. Areas gazetted are: Kokani forest (61,495.5 ha), Mwina forest (3,347.2 ha), Hewani forest (2,698.2 ha) and mangrove ecosystems in Ozi, Kipini and Chara locations (2,665 ha).
Following the gazettement, communities living in and adjacent to the forest are required to establish a Community Forest Association (CFA) as provided by section 46 of the Forest Act 2005. Under the provision, local forest communities have been given the mandate to participate in the sustainable management of such forests through registered Community Forest Associations.
“We have embarked in the formation processes of the underlined CFA that basically involve participation of the community and the stakeholders in drawing up the constitution, management agreement instruments, advocacy and Action plans,” stated the letter.
Jillo Kokani, the Chairperson of the Tana Delta Conservation Network Site Support Group, noted that the land gazetted was just a small fraction of the Tana Delta habitat as most of the biodiversity is in the wetland, which is a designated Ramsar site.
Kokani added that they were in process of forming the Tana Delta Community Forest Association that will work with the Tana Delta Conservation Network and other stakeholders to ensure communities benefit from wise use of natural resources while also safeguarding sustainable development projects that are community-driven.
The Tana River Delta is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA), a site critical for conservation of birds. The delta is also designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.