NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya’s Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary has kicked off a plan to turn around Ngong Hills Forest for the benefit of public.
On Wednesday CS Keriako Tobiko called on the Kenya Forest Service to fast-track the development of a master plan and identify quick wins that will transform the Forest.
Tobiko tasked the Service together with other stakeholders to formulate a team that would see the fast-tracking of Ngong Hills Forest Collaborative Framework within three weeks towards harnessing the potential of the forest resource.
Inside the Collaborative Framework, it was identified that an elaborate master plan to assess and identify the ecological integrity of the forest would be undertaken to identify products that would benefit members of the public and in turn increase the value of the asset.
The framework will also seek to enhance and promote partnerships for restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded areas of the forest through 'Adopt a forest' approach where both state and private corporates will be mobilised to grow trees and raise resources that will secure the forest, such as through fencing.
The CS also gave a 30-day notice to all community members who have in the past grazed animals in the forests leading to the distraction of planted trees to refrain from the illegal vice and seek user rights through KFS on how the trend would be better managed. The CS said, "No livestock will be allowed into the forest at any given time, so as to ensure the protection of the critical water catchment area."
In addition, the CS pointed out that littering forests with plastic products is an offence punishable by law; "Alcoholic drinks, plastics and any litter is outlawed in all forest resources and KFS is under instructions to implement the directive."
The Kenya Forest Service indicated on its Social media pages an increase in revenue from Ngong Hills Forest as number of visitors grow due to containment measures to curb spread of coronavirus.
According to the Service, the forest has been receiving over 3,000 visitors for recreation and relaxation mainly over weekends.
Tobiko spoke on Wednesday during a meeting hosted by the Kenya Forest Service. The meeting was aimed at enhancing conservation, management, and protection efforts of Ngong Hills Forest
Others in attendance included members of the Ngong Metro Community Forest Association (CFA) among other stakeholders
The open-air meeting, which converged Senior Officers from KFS led by the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau, CFA representatives as well as officials from downstream stakeholders namely; Kiserisan and Ongata Rongai Residents Association, and Rotary Clubs of Ngong and Ongata Rongai, sort to define a road map through which the management of the critical water catchment forest would be strengthened.
On his part, the Chief Conservator of Forest Julius Kamau appreciated the goodwill exhibited by all stakeholders who now appreciate the role the Service has to play in ensuring that forests and allied resources are optimally managed for the benefit of all.
Mr. Kamau reiterated the importance of developing such mutual benefit mechanisms that would connect the lower catchment residences with the upper catchment through CFAs so as to enhance conservation, management, protection, and individual responsibility for Ngong Hills Forest.