Community action in biodiversity conservation and livelihoods: the case of Kikuyu escarpment forest, Kenya
Kikuyu escarpment forest is part of the world-renowned Aberdare forest and an important biodiversity area with flora and fauna of global significance. The forest is furthermore an important community asset. The local NGO KENVO, which is very much a ‘home grown’ organisation, has been working with local communities around the forest to raise awareness of the importance of the forest and to encourage participation in conservation.
At the time of KENVO’s establishment ten ago, the forest faced serious conservation threats as result of unsustainable human activities, including charcoal burning, illegal logging and encroachment.
With limited resources and under the leadership of David Kuria, KENVO have managed to end destructive activities in the area and develop a strong working relationship with the government through the forest department, Kenya Wildlife Services and Kenya Forest Research Institution. KENVO has also worked to win the hearts of many community members and the group has received enormous support from local people.
KENVO is promoting community driven initiatives such as bee keeping farming, agroforestry and bird watching as alternatives to non-sustainable forest use. A participatory approach is being utilised, sharing best practice to create a strong network of local groups involved in active forest conservation and community-driven forest management. Long-term, the aim is for the project to become entirely self driven through community input, combining education improved local livelihoods and forest biodiversity monitoring.