Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Collaborative management of the Nandi forests in Kenya

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Collaborative management of the Nandi forests in Kenya

There is a rich past of participatory forest management in the forests of South Nandi located in South Western Kenya. Over time South Nandi has experienced tea farming as buffer zones, political land grabbing and a lot of logging. The Nandi people have dealt with restrictions, community forest associations (CFA) and riots, all while a majority of them are living below the poverty line. The forests themselves are among some of the most biodiverse in Africa bringing in scientists from all over the world to study the ecosystems. This case study will look at the forests of South Nandi and the communities involved.


This case study will look into the influences of forest practices within the South Nandi Forests located within the Nandi county of Kenya. Nandi County can be found on the Central western edge of Kenya close to the Ugandan border. Within Nandi there has been a large role of government-enforced practices that resulted in greater community involvement in the forest around them. This wiki article will explore the livelihoods of locals before and after participatory forest management (PFM) came into effect as well as the drivers that led to PFM. While PFM has been going on environmentally-focused research has been going strong in these forests since 1963 involving a string of organizations and communities within this area. Because of a shortage of research on any specific villages, this paper will look at the Nandi tribe as they are the affected stakeholders of South Nandi forests and are commonly referenced in papers on the subject. These forest add a high contribution to global flora and fauna biodiversity and have helped set an example for forest management practices within Kenya.

Tenure arrangements

A majority of the forests around South Nandi are State Forests, controlled by the government through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The KFS have the power to issue permits and licences as well as set prices on the use of forest resources. They also have the power to set limits on amounts harvested and the methods of harvesting. Under the KFS a form of participatory forest management has been implemented through the development of community forest associations (CFA), which began in the year 1997. The CFA’s are in place to encourage community involvement and get their input into how the forest should be managed. As far as overall power CFA has little to no legal power and can be disbanded at the hand of the KFS.

Administrative arrangements

Kenya became recognized as a British colony in 1920 then Kenya finally gained independence on December 12, 1963 (A Brief History on Kenya). Following independence there was not much of a change in forest use within the country of Kenya. The delegation of colonial land was taken over and became state owned. (Klopp) “In 1984, South Nandi Forest became one of seven forests selected by the government Kenya to be part of the World Bank funded Nyayo Tea Zones project.” (Klopp) The tea zones were created to provide a buffer around forests. The reasoning behind implementing a tea zone was because there were very few or no distinct boundaries preventing local businesses or towns from growing their farmland by encroaching on the forest. Tea was put in place to set a distinct boarder that would be easily defined if someone were to log restricted areas. Unfortunately the power to create these tea zones was abused and in “In 1985, the state-owned Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation (NTZDC) was created and given the task of managing the tea zone and a year later the government established the zones officially on land designated as forest.” (Klopp) The tea zones that were made to protect and prevent logging became a legal loophole for logging. Elections then became a large source of land grabbing and logging for the purpose of funding candidates campaigns. In Klopps article he says “Under pressure for resources to win the newly competitive elections in 1992 and 1997, Moi’s clients in the NTZDC made the decision to excise parts of the South Nandi Forest. Between 1990 and 1994 when the ‘‘land grabbing mania’’ was in full swing, a ring around South Nandi Forest was cut down and planted with tea by the NTZDC”(Klopp). This had to stop and “On 7 October 1998, the first large demonstration took place. Activists drawn from the Green Belt Movement” (Klopp). The Green Belt happen in the near bye forest of Karura. This was a first step in retaliation against the land grabbing and illegal selling off of forest land. Though there has been progress made through many demonstration where protesters have gone in and planted trees to reclaim the land as state forest (Klopp) there are still many cases of illegal logging within Kenya. In recent terms the there’re are less cases of land grabbing within the South Nandi forests but encroachment of local communities who have used the forests communally for generations has continued to persist. The government administration has set a poor example for local communities and have created and free for all approach to forest resources.

Affected Stakeholders

The affected stakeholders are comprised of the local communities surrounding the South Nandi forests. These people are “mostly farmers engaged in the growing of tea and maize as cash crops. They also keep dairy cows in their homesteads and rear beef cattle which graze in the forest for a fee.” (Mbuvi et al.). Within the case study “Determining the potential for introducing and sustaining participatory forest management: A case study of South Nandi Forest of Western Kenya” There was a survey done on the people in the communities around South Nandi determining diversity in their wealth. It was found that 81.5 % (Mbuvi et al.) were poor and that a majority of the people interested in participatory forest management fit into this category. The communities’ uses in the forest consisted mainly of gathering materials to meet domestic needs with products like firewood, medicinal herbs, thatch and grazing for livestock.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

The forests of South Nandi are part of the Afromontane rain forests (Njunge & Mugo, 2011) providing some of the most biologically diverse flora and fauna in Africa. Some interested outside stakeholders in this case study would consist of the many biologist, botanists, birders and entomologists conducting research in these areas. There are also many undocumented plants and insects within these forests that have potential in medical advancements so the loss of forest land could cause a loss in potential medicines.


For the people of South Nandi they rely on the forests around them in their everyday uses like wood for fuel. As time has gone on the forests around them have dwindled due to logging for timber and farming space. The people themselves have been the affected stakeholders while the forests in which they relied on have disappeared around them. Government control of the forests have led to a “free for all” approach where everyone is out to use the forest for themselves while not considering the long term effects of their actions. Though there is a form of participatory forest management within South Nandi the actions of the government through land grabbing has provided a one sided approach to PFM. Do the CFAs need more power to regulate their forests properly? Will the ability to enforce law onto trespassers committing illegal logging bring more community involvement? Previous circumstances of land grabbing and selling of forest land has created a rift between communities and state. A fight to get the most out of the forests has hurt the ecosystem and resulted in a large loss in forest land. A heavier involvement of communities where they are given a legal say might be able to start to mend these relationships and result in a higher success rate for PFM within Kenya.


As the Nandi community goes forward a balance must be made between forest uses. There are parks in place but the respect has to be there in order to prevent an all access approach from communities. Communication and proper representation of sustainable practices of state forests is a must. The state must set an example and involve the communities in order to rebuild and provide protection within these forests.



“A Brief History on Kenya.” The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Japan,

Chomba, Susan W., et al. “Illusions of Empowerment? Questioning Policy and Practice of Community Forestry in Kenya.” Ecology and Society, vol. 20, no. 3, 2015, doi:10.5751/ES-07741-200302.

Klopp, Jacqueline M. “Deforestation and Democratization: Patronage, Politics and Forests in Kenya.” Journal of Eastern African Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 2012, pp. 351–70, doi:10.1080/17531055.2012.669577.

Mbuvi, M. T. E., et al. “Determining the Potential for Introducing and Sustaining Participatory Forest Management: A Case Study of South Nandi Forest of Western Kenya.” International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 7, no. 3, 2015, pp. 190–201, doi:10.5897/IJBC2014.0786.

Mosley, Paul. The Settler Economies: Studies in the Economic History of Kenya and Southern Rhodesia 1900–1963. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Mutune, Jane Mutheu, and Jens Friss Lund. “Unpacking the Impacts of ‘Participatory’ Forestry Policies: Evidence from Kenya.” Forest Policy and Economics, vol. 69, Elsevier B.V., 2016, pp. 45–52, doi:10.1016/j.forpol.2016.03.004.

Njunge, J. T., and J. M. Mugo. “Composition and Succession of the Woody Flora of South Nandi Forest, Kenya.” Research Journal of Botany, vol. 6, no. 3, 2011, pp. 112–21, doi:10.3923/rjb.2011.112.121.

Ogada, Maurice Juma. “Forest Management Decentralization in Kenya: Effects on Household Farm Forestry Decisions in Kakamega.” International Association of Agricultural Economists Triennial Conference, 2012, pp. 18–24.

Otieno, Nickson E., et al. “Effect of Habitat Alteration on Density and Distribution of Turner’s Eremomela Eremomela Turneri in South Nandi Forest, Kenya.” Ibis, vol. 153, no. 2, 2011, pp. 436–37, doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01112_2.x.

Othim, R. a. “Emerging Roles of Community Forest Associations in Kenya : The Cases of Arabuko – Sokoke Forest Adjacent Dwellers Association ( ASFADA ) and Meru Forest Environmental and Protection Community Association ( MEFECAP ).” Forestry, no. September, 2007, pp. 1–11.

Tanui, Julius Gordon. “Integrated Environmental Education for Sustainable Forest Management: The Case of Nandi Hills Forests, Kenya.” Forest Science and Practice, vol. 15, no. 2, 2013, pp. 152–59, doi:10.1007/s11632-013-0203-0.

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