KFS implements new scheme to enhance forest conservation

The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has begun the implementation of the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS), an initiative aimed at rehabilitating degraded natural forest areas.

The scheme focuses on sustainable forest management, conservation, and the equitable utilization of forest resources.

In his opening remarks, the acting Chief Conservator of Forests emphasised the importance of forest conservation and sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations.

“Forests provide a wide range of social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and environmental benefits for local communities,” he stated.

The implementation of PELIS is part of KFS’s mandate to develop and conserve public natural forests, sustainably manage forest plantations, increase forest cover beyond public forest areas, and protect public forests and other corporate assets.

The scheme recognizes the vital role of local communities in forest management and aims to promote their inclusion and benefit sharing.

Globally, it is estimated that the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people depend on forests for cash and non-cash income. In Kenya alone, approximately 3.05 million people, residing in 610,000 households adjacent to forests, rely on these ecosystems for their livelihoods and the provision of goods and services.

However, in Kenya, the system has undergone several changes over the past two decades. Controversial policy decisions, bans, and lack of clear guidelines have resulted in planting backlogs and adversely affected the resilience of local communities. To address these challenges, the government introduced PELIS in 2008 to establish forest plantations at a low cost and improve community livelihoods through collaborative forest management.

The Acting Chief Conservator of Forests highlighted the importance of PELIS in meeting the national demand for wood products.

Currently, Kenya faces a significant deficit in sustainable wood supply, which is projected to rise further by 2032. With a growing population and increasing reliance on wood biomass for energy, the pressure on forests and trees is mounting.

The government aims to utilise PELIS to establish 54,000 hectares of commercial forest plantations in unstocked areas within degraded natural forests. This endeavor requires close collaboration between the Kenya Forest Service, local communities, and emerging forest sector entrepreneurs.

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