“The forest is running away from us each time we try to move closer to them…” I this was the voice that reverberated across the crowd the year 2008 when the government and private partners came together to launch program to sensitize communities on the need to protect our forest lest we regret the consequences.
Many years ago, it was an up-hill task engaging communities to jointly come together to help in the conservation efforts. Consequently, there was limited buy-in from local communities, many of whom remained hostile to conservation.
However, many communities have felt the consequences that are being caused by climate change as a result of not conserving our resources, poor crop yields, and delay in rains and erratic weather patterns. These have made them to become conscious of what the environment means to them.
On the other hand, it is sad to note that Mt. Kenya forest is being degraded because theofficers are colluding with illegal loggers who are destroying the forest cover in the name of fire wood and poles.
Communities coming forth to protect the valuable resource are being threatened as indigenous trees that have taken lots of years to grow continue to be cut and burned.
The government’s effort to save the Mau is now being seen as neglect to the other forest areas. However, this is a wake up call for all of us to ape the Mau efforts and learn from it. It is not time to wait upon the government to come and bail us out but to use the Mau model to be able to sustain the meager resources we have.
As a result of collective efforts, evaluation of community initiatives of integrating the various activities undertaken in conservation, and the impact on national policy making and on the local livelihoods will be achieved in the long run.