GEF | UNDP Supported Project

Strengthening the Protected Area Network within the Eastern Montane Forest Hotspot of Kenya

Introduction

This is a four year project, 2011 to 2014, that will see increased coverage and strengthened management effectiveness for forest in western and North Rift Kenya. These regions of Kenya have several small areas that are part of the Eastern- Afromontane Hotspot that stretches from Saudi Arabia in the north to Zimbabwe in south-central Africa. These areas within the hotspot have remarkable levels of biological diversity, but are also highly threatened. Nature Kenya is coordinating the implementation of this four-year GEF/UNDP supported project.

In Kenya, the Hotspots includes  the West  Evergreen/ Hill  forest  to  the  west of  rift  valley,  as well  as  outlaynng  volcanoes  (Mount  Kenya, the  Abadares Ranges ) to  the east of  the Rift

The protected areas the project targets are Kakamega Forest, North and South Nandi Forests and the Cherangani Hills Forests. Un protected sites, termed “Community conserved Area” or CCAs, will be selected after ongoing assessment of private and community forest areas. For both the protected forests and selected CCAs, the project will support a suite of actions linked to participatory forest management – including capacity building, management planning, forest and biodiversity monitoring, forest rehabilitation, and local livelihood initiatives.

Increasingly wild biodiversity in the midst of agricultural landscapes is threatened with extinction from human settlement pressure on the mosaic of Protected Areas within the landscapes. The barriers to forest conservation in these areas of biodiversity hotspots include a rapidly growing human population, high poverty levels, dwindling land sizes, and weak enforcement of existing legislation. The gradual intrusion of farms into forest, illegal tree-felling and charcoal burning cause considerable damage. Grazing of livestock in forests prevent trees from regenerating and becoming established in re-afforested areas. Hunting for bush-meat and debarking of tress for traditional medicine, and firewood collection are also serious problems that the project will be tackling.

Objectives

Goal - The Montane Forest Biodiversity and Ecosystem Values are Conserved and Provide Sustainable Benefit Flows at Local, National and Global Levels

Objective - The spatial coverage and management effectiveness of the Montane Forest Protected Area sub system is expanded and strengthened.

Nature Kenya has entered into a tripartite agreement with UNDP and Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources to implement the project. Implementation partners include key government agencies such as KFS, KWS, KEFRI, NEMA, NMK and the key Community Based Organisations (CBOs) engaged in natural resource management at the project sites. Initiatives will be undertaken in Kakamega, Cherangani Hills and the North and South Nandi Forests.

The actions will result in enhanced national capacities for Protected Areas management, community management of forest and site operational capacities for forest management.

Definitions of key outputs/products

Protected Area (PA) – A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective the means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values

Community Conserved Area (CCA) – a natural and/or modified ecosystem containing significant biodiversity values, ecological services and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by indigenous, mobile and local communities through customary laws or other effective means.

Buffer Zones - areas created to enhance the protection of a conservation area, often peripheral to it, inside or outside. Buffer zones are an important part of conservation strategies for a wide variety of sites of biodiversity importance. Within Buffer zones, certain legal and/or customary restrictions are placed upon resource use and/or is managed to reduce the negative impacts of restrictions on the neighbouring communities.