Influence of forest governance practices on forest protection in Kenya: the case of Ngong Hills Forest
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Forest Governance is critical in ensuring that forest resources are sustainably managed. It is also important in ensuring that decisions are taken and implemented for the realization of environmental, ecological, cultural, social as well as economic benefits. Despite all these benefits, Kenya faces a shortage of forests coverage, which is currently standing at 7.2% against the global requirement of 10%. Even more intriguing is the fact that there is continuous loss of large hectares of forests yearly due to illegal logging, unsustainable farming, encroachment and forest fires. The purpose of this study was to find out the influence of forest governance practices that is participatory planning, forest regulatory framework and enforcement of forest governance practices on forest protection in Ngong hills forest. This study was anchored on the Institutional theory and Stakeholder theory to explain the theoretical concept. This study adopted a descriptive research design to achieve the study's objectives. Data was collected from 168 respondents drawn from the target population using a questionnaire and key informant interviews. The quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics while qualitative data was analyzed using content analysis. The study findings showed that participatory planning in forest protection was implemented to a moderate extent due to minimal involvement, inadequate cooperation and limited capacity building of stakeholders as held by 65% of the respondents. Additionally, the existing forest regulatory framework was moderately adequate but required further amendments to align various issues concerning promotion of forest user rights, its clarity and consistency with other related legislations as supported by 72% of the respondents. Further, the level of effectiveness in enforcement of forest governance practices was to a low extent due to resource constraints for continuous training and acquisition of necessary tools and equipment to support forest law enforcement as supported by 81% of the respondents. This implied that improving participatory planning, strengthening regulatory framework and investing in enforcement would improve forest protection significantly. The study recommends that Kenya Forest Service should adopt a holistic approach of implementing forest governance practices through enhancing participatory planning, strengthening and publicizing forest regulatory framework and encouraging collaborative enforcement for improved forest protection. The study findings may be of importance to Kenya Forest Service and stakeholders in forest governance in presenting ways for improving forest protection in Kenya. Additionally, the scholars would benefit from the study findings in further building literature on the theme based on the research gaps identified.
Africa Nazarene University