History of forestry in Kenya

The importance of forest to Kenya has been realized by the colonial government as early as 1900s.In 1902 the first forest Department was set up with the arrival of Mr. C. F. Elliot who became the first conservator of 1908, most of the major forest blocks as we know them today had been reserved as forest area through gazettement .it was however not until 1957 that the first comprehensive forest policy was drawn up.

The policy mainly outlined the protection of the forest estate and the sustainable exploitation of forest. It also covered afforestation and the conservation of forest in “African areas” and the proper management of privately owned forests for public amenity, recreation and as a habitat for wildlife.


But with the growth of the population and therefore diminishing settlement land the forest policy was revised with a few modification in 1968. Chief among the modifications was the introduction of the shamba system this system was meant to help in reafforestation and boost forest management. The system was also meant to allow communities bordering the forests access the much needed cultivation land.

Other major modifications included the designation of local authority forest and the promotion of research and education in forestry apart from the provision of adequate funds for the implementation of the policy .the late 20th century forestry however characterized forest mismanagement through illegal allocation of forest lands and political interference in the management of forest affairs. Further, forests. This situation promoted industry stakeholders to prepare the Kenya forest master plan {KEMP of 1994} which a new forest dispensation centered on community involvement, conservation and protection, decentralization and cost benefit sharing was introduced.



Since 2004 the world has suffered a net loss of 37million hectare [91million acres] of forest according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture the same period, 64.4 million hectares of trees were felled and planting of natural regeneration of 27.8

Million hectares of new forest occurred. The world loses7.3 million hectares of forest, about four times the size of all gazette forest in Kenya. Due to extensive reforestation, this new forest shrinkage has slowed slight from the 8.9 million hectares lost in the 1990s.despite the decrease, gross deforestation has not declined significantly since 2000. 

Closer home, Africa has lost 64 million hectares of forest between 1995 and 2005, the greatest decline on any continent during the same period .fuel wood gathering drives much of this forest depletion .timber exports also play a role, with 80% of the Congo basins timber production being exported, mainly to china ant the European Union

Much of the world’s wood is harvested illegally illegal logging accounts for more than half of timber production in Russia, Brazil and Cameroon .in addition to devastating forest ecosystems, illegal logging robs forest dwellers of their livelihoods, fuel social turmoil, and deprives timber producing countries of up to Kshs. 1.4 trillion of revenue annually.


KFS The Corporate

Kenya Forest Service {KFS} is a state corporation with Board of Management that was formed in February 2007 through the enactment of the Forest Act 2005, and succeeds the former forests Department.


KFS Structure

KFS has a board Chairman .At the management level KFS is headed by Director [Chief Executive Officer] with a 3 senior Deputy Directors as the principal assistants. Deputy Directors as heads of Divisions, whereas seniors Assistant Directors are the Heads of Departments and Conservancies Assistant Directors are the Head of Forest Ecosystem and Extension Service providers at Stations level.

At the regional level, there are 10 Conservancies; each with one Forest Conservation Committee [FCC] which guides the management of conservancies. The FCCs consist of 10 members, out of whom four members are from community forest associations. Under the conservancies we have ecosystem conservators who manage Zonal Managers on county levels.


Benefits of Kenya’s Forests

Forests rank high as some of the most important national assets in terms of economic, environmental, social and cultural is estimated that the forest sector contributes about kshs. 7 Billion To the economy and employs over 50,000 people directly and other 300,000 indirectly. More than 530,000 households living within a radius of 5 kilometers from the forest reserves depend on forest for cultivating, grazing fishing, fuel food honey herbal medicines, water and other benefits. Sustainable supply of raw materials to the wood industry has been found crucial to protection and conservation of natural forest. The natural forests also act as carbon sinks as well as offering water catchments and biodiversity conservation functions. 


KEY Forestry Definitions 

Forest: Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 15 percent or trees able to reach these threshold. This include natural and planted plantation forests in state and private land.

Forestry-the art and science managing or looking after forests, tree plantations and related natural resources. 

Forest cover: Report on national forest resource mapping and capacity development for the republic of Kenya volume 2:2013.this wall to wall mapping exercise revealed that the forest cover experienced a decline from 7:89% in 1990 [4,670,877.3 Ha] to 5.90 % [3,492,116.2 ha] in 2000.However there has been increase from 5.90 % [3,492,116.2 Ha] in 2000 to 6.99 % [4,136,446,5 Ha] in 2010.these figures were computed using technologically advanced tools of GIS and Remote Sensing in integrated analysis using the temporal dimension from 1990-2010


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