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Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge MOST/CIRAN
KENYA BP.09

TITLE

Loita project of integrated forest conservation and management (preparatory phase)

DESCRIPTION

The Naimina Enkiyio Forest is situated in Loita, in the south of Kenya. The forest ecosystem is an important natural resource which has a long history of use by the Maasai. The forest is seen by the Loita pastoralists as alive, and responsive in many ways to their physical, spiritual and cultural needs. Particular trees are regarded as sacred. The many valuable forest-based products include products derived directly from trees (medicine, edible fruits and seeds, honey, and poles) as well as water, grass for livestock, and other plants. The Maasai see the forest as their responsibility and its sustainable use as a must.

The forest has been reasonably well maintained up to now, but the pressures on it are increasing as the population expands and the demand for forest products grows. At the same time, there are various plans for developing and exploiting the Loita forest. Some of these plans are controversial and hold potential for conflict. If the forest ecosystem is to be conserved and the area developed in a sustainable way, the various interests will have to be reconciled. The institutional mechanisms presently in place are inadequate for dealing with these conflicts and resolving these issues, however. Furthermore, there is a need for more information about the resource base, its value, and its potential for sustainable use.

The projectís objective is to integrate the indigenous systems for managing the forestís resources with modern conservation practices. The Naimina Enkiyio Forest in Loita is not only a holy forest for the Loita Maasai people; it is also a conservation target for the Kenyan government since it is one of the few remaining indigenous forests in Kenya.

The first year is a preparatory phase, for:

  • consulting with the Loita community;
  • organizing the stakeholders;
  • taking stock of indigenous practices;
  • planning the next phase, when the integration of indigenous knowledge and modern forestry practices will take place.
At the same time, the literature is being searched and information is being compiled in order to study the forest and identify its main species; to assess its biodiversity, ecological value, and the role it plays in the water supply of the Rift Valley and the Loita rangelands; to identify and analyze the relationship between the forest and the people, and to conduct a survey of eco-tourism activities.

The final phase will be the actual implementation of community-based forest management.

THEMES:
RELIGION, LAND USE, FOREST MANAGEMENT, FOREST CONSERVATION

COUNTRY: KENYA
Regions: Loita
Neighbourhood: Naimina Enkiyio Forest

INDIGENOUS ASPECTS

Indigenous practices for managing the forest will be documented and integrated into modern forestry techniques.

SUSTAINABILITY

The planting of new trees will contribute to forest conservation. The preservation and reinforcement of the cultural and religious value of the forest will also help to safeguard its future.

STAKEHOLDERS AND BENEFICIARIES

Four agencies are involved in the project: IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office (EARO); Loita Conservation Trust; Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS); and the Kenya Forest Department. The projectís main stakeholders and beneficiaries are the Maasai people of Loita.

The project was initiated when local Masaai leaders approached the IUCN and other agencies for help to preserve their holy forest. All parties are now working together in a process of consultation on how best to manage the forest and conserve it for present and future generations. This is being done through participatory discussions and workshops at which information is exchanged among all the stakeholders and a joint effort is made to identify gaps in the available information. All stakeholders are also involved in formulating the proposal for the next phase of the project.

The Maasai target group numbers some 240,000 people.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS

  • The initiative for the project came from the indigenous people themselves.
  • The project contributes significantly to increasing the capacities of the local population.
IT IS CONSIDERED TO BE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE:

The government has begun to respect IK and its use in forestry.

SUCCESS EXPRESSED IN QUALITATIVE OR QUANTITATIVE TERMS:

The entire population of Loita is involved in the project.

POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION

More can be said on this subject following the first project evaluation.

PERIOD:
From: 1998 to 1999

BUDGET:
USD 277,582.00

CONTACT PERSON:

Eldad Tukahirwa
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Eastern Africa Regional Office

ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED:

Organization that provided this information:

Bilance
P.O. Box 77
2340 AB Oegstgeest
The Netherlands
Url: http://www.antenna.nl/bilance/en-index.html

Primary organization:

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Eastern Africa Regional Office
P.O. Box 68200
Nairobi
Kenya
Telephone: +254-2-890605-12
Fax: +254-2-890615 / 890407
E-mail: mail@iucn.unon.org

Cooperating organization:

Loita Ilkerin Integral Development Project
Address not available


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