New push to transfer management of Mau forest blocks from Narok to Bomet

Maasai Mau Forest

Aerial photos of the Maasai Mau Forest in a photo taken on October 31, 2020.

Photo credit: File | George Sayagie | Nation Media Group

Bomet county government is seeking to have two forest blocks in Mau complex transferred for ease of management and boost conservation efforts in the region.

The two blocks - Nyangores and Nairotia - are managed under the Narok ecosystem though they are physically in Bomet county.

Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok has called on Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to effect the transfer for better management of the natural resource.

Professor Barchok said whenever Bomet county security enforcement officers and foresters arrest illegal loggers and charcoal burners plundering the forest, they are forced to hand them over for prosecution to Narok county.

"The management of the two forest blocks should fall under the Bomet ecosystem as it is abnormal to have a resource that is in one county to be managed under a neighbouring county" Professor Barchok said.

He said the move would enable the local community to be fully involved in the conservation of the Mau forest complex which is a regional water source.

The illegal harvest of indigenous trees has been happening over the years despite efforts by the Kenya Forests Service to curb the vice.

Dr Julius Kamau, the Chief Conservator of forests has in the past said with mutual trust and goodwill from stakeholders it was possible to re-align the management of the two forest blocks.

“There is need to resolve the issues around conservation of the Mau forest complex and turn it around from a place of despair to one of hope and that can inspire peace,” Dr Kamau said.

He said KFS would continuously engage with communities, counties and stakeholders to conserve the environment and seek to increase forest cover across the country to the benefit of the people.

Professor Barchok said the county had attained 22 percent forest cover following the involvement of the local community in tree planting exercise both by the national and county governments.

"The rise in forest cover is also attributed to a program we have rolled out to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems with members of the local community encouraged to plant nitrogen fixing trees, timbre, woodlots and fruit trees,” Professor Barchok said.

The governor said community participation in conservation was key in seeking to turn around the negative effects brought about by years of depletion of the forest through unchecked human activities, cultivation along river banks and pollution of water sources.

The government has rehabilitated the Mau forest complex which is the source of many rivers that empty its water to Lake Victoria.

More than 60,000 families were evicted from the forest in Narok South four years ago to pave the way for the conservation of the forest.

The affected families were not compensated by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee administration in what kicked off a political storm.

The victims of the eviction are still camping in makeshift structures while more than 15 schools were closed and teachers transferred.

Part of the forest has been fenced off to demarcate private and government land so as to allow the regeneration of trees.