Authors: Wambui Kariuki, Judy
Title: The governance of biodiversity in Kakamega Forest, Kenya
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: Kenya derives enormous economic, social and cultural benefits from its biological resources. However, it is clear that Kenya’s biodiversity is under threat. An expanding population is putting severe pressure on the environment. Impoverished people with no alternative means of a livelihood are forced to use natural resources unsustainably. Natural habitats continue to be cleared and converted. Land is degraded and water polluted; ecosystems are damaged and their functions impaired. An urgent need therefore arises for the identification of sites and habitats that are the most important, most threatened and which require urgent action for conservation. Kakamega Forest stands out prominently as one of them. The view taken in this study is that the sectoral approach to natural resource management in Kenya is a serious hindrance to biodiversity conservation. It produces problems of co-ordination of policies, jurisdictional overlaps, conflicts and at times bureaucratic inertia. It ignores the fact that ecosystems cannot easily be partitioned into independent units, but must be treated as a functional whole. Approaching the subject from an institutional perspective, the study seeks to explore the role of property rights institutions in creating enabling incentives and disincentives for the governance of biodiversity. Institutional change in Kenya has not effectively harmonised the formal and informal property rights. Whereas formal property-rights institutions have frequently been changed, the informal cultural institutions have been slow to change thus unable to cope with the new developments. Kenya, like most other developing countries, has been caught up in a multiple, intricate institutional system, which is highly disconnected and disadvantageous to most spheres of the economy. It therefore becomes evident that despite the wide range of legislation for environmental management in Kenya, biodiversity degradation persists. This is more the result of institutional weaknesses and failures of co-ordination than of legislative inadequacies. Consequently policies are rendered impotent. Interpreting the problem as one of policy failure, more institutional changes are undertaken, making an already bad situation worse. Precisely, at one point in time, Kenya had 77 legislation articles dealing with the governance of biodiversity; overlapping on the already existing cultural institutions. To bridge the various sectors dealing with biodiversity, the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) came to force in the year 2000. Although it may still be early to judge the impact of the Act, it is evident that biodiversity degradation is still persistent. Nonetheless, evidence shows that institutions do not work in isolation but hand in hand with other factors contributing to the persistent loss of biodiversity. However, the scope of this study is limited to property institutions related challenges. The relevant data for this study has been collected from two main sources, key informant interviews and a desktop review of secondary materials on biodiversity conservation in Kenya. The study draws from international experience in the management of biodiversity. Based on various case studies, the role of institutions in the governance of biodiversity is explored in detail, and principles for institutional performance discussed. The institutional framework for biodiversity conservation in Kenya is presented, evaluated and analysed exposing various gaps that are appropriately filled based on the already elaborated case studies. A reconciled institutional network is then proposed as a way forward for biodiversity conservation in Kenya, based on the experiences of Kakamega Forest. This is undertaken within the scope of the umbrella multidisciplinary and international project, BIOTA Africa.
Subject Headings (RSWK): Biodiversität
Kakamega
Kenia
Umweltschutz
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/29431
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-3347
Issue Date: 2012-05-03
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