In the heart of Laikipia North Sub County lies Mukogodo Forest, a unique oasis surrounded by dry lands and home to four community groups. Recognizing the importance of conservation and restoration, the Ilmamusi Mukogodo Community Forest Association (CFA), in collaboration with key stakeholders, embarked on a transformative journey. This culminated in the launch of the Mukogodo Participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) on May 23rd, 2023. Supported by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and a range of development partners, including the Laikipia Conservancies Association (LCA), Lewa Wildlife Conservancy The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Borana Conservancy, Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), and County Government of Laikipia among others, the PFMP sets the stage for sustainable forest management and community well-being.
In January 2022, the CFA commenced the review process of the elapsed Mukogodo Forest PFMP, recognizing the need for a comprehensive and updated plan. To ensure a participatory approach, IFCMS Consultancy Limited was contracted to assist with the review process, generously funded by the LCA. The review process involved multiple stages to gather input from local communities and other stakeholders.
Two inception meetings were held to raise awareness of the review process and engage the local community. Subsequently, a Local Planning and Review Team (LPRT) was formed, comprising representatives from the community and various other stakeholders. The LPRT meticulously reviewed the elapsed PFMP and collaborated with the KFS’s GIS department to conduct zonation and resource mapping, laying the groundwork for effective conservation strategies.
Engaging the community was crucial, and a social-economic survey was conducted. Eight enumerators and four supervisors were recruited to gather valuable insights into the socio-economic aspects related to the forest and its surrounding communities. The survey findings would inform the development of the new PFMP.
Building on the survey results, the LPRT presented the zero PFMP draft to its members for feedback and input. This iterative process ensured that the plan accurately reflected the community’s needs and aspirations. Additionally, stakeholders were invited to provide their perspectives, fostering a collaborative approach to the plan’s development.
Upon finalizing the PFMP, it underwent approval by the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), signifying the official endorsement of the plan. Simultaneously, negotiations were held to establish a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) between the KFS and the Ilmamusi Mukogodo CFA. The FMA solidified the partnership and commitment to sustainable forest management.
The momentous occasion arrived on May 23rd, 2023, as the Mukogodo PFMP was launched at Lokusero Secondary School. Sarah Korere, Member of Parliament for the area, graced the event, highlighting the significance of the initiative. The signing of the FMA symbolized a significant milestone, enhancing the community’s efforts to safeguard the forest’s sustainability.
The signed PFMP serves as a comprehensive roadmap for the conservation and restoration of Mukogodo Forest. It encompasses eight programs that will be implemented over the next five years, empowering CFA members with 19 forest user rights. These initiatives will serve as a guide for the CFA, its members, and other stakeholders, ensuring effective protection and management of the forest.
Furthermore, the PFMP will also create opportunities for sustainable enterprises, such as beekeeping, ecotourism and herbal medicine development.
Much gratitude to the FAO, LCA and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy for supporting this process to its success.