The Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK), in collaboration with several government departments including Forestry, Environment, Climate Change, and Wildlife, has convened a forum aimed at addressing the conservation challenges facing the Kakamega forest and its surrounding landscape.

Themed ‘The Sustainable Conservation of the Kakamega Forest Landscapes and Its Fragile Ecosystems’, the forum sought to assess the current state of conservation efforts and stakeholders involved, with the goal of fostering collaboration to effectively preserve the forest.

Participants included representatives from government agencies, local communities, and non-governmental organizations engaged in conservation initiatives within the Kakamega forest landscape.

During the forum, Wildlife Principal Secretary Silvia Museiya commended the ongoing efforts by various conservation groups in the forest but emphasized the need for greater attention to be placed on plant species and other regions that have received less focus in conservation efforts.

Museiya highlighted the importance of expanding conservation efforts beyond well-known species and areas, urging stakeholders to allocate resources to regions with less attention, such as Baringo and West Pokot.

Steve Itela, CEO of CAK, underscored the significance of collaboration and the development of a comprehensive master plan to coordinate conservation activities and ensure the sustainable preservation of the forest.

Itela noted the historical extent of the Kakamega forest, emphasizing the need to move away from isolated conservation projects towards a unified approach to prevent duplication of efforts and effectively safeguard the forest.

Dr. Johnson Murila, Chairman of the Kakamega Forest Heritage Foundation, echoed the call for collaboration, citing the Foundation’s successful rehabilitation of a significant portion of the forest over the past five years.

Murila emphasized the importance of consolidating resources and efforts to achieve common conservation goals, emphasizing the potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change and restore the forest’s ecological balance.

Beatrice Khayota, Principle Research Scientist at the National Museum of Kenya, emphasized the need for coordinated research efforts and effective communication of findings to the local community and conservation organizations.

Khayota stressed the importance of engaging local communities in utilizing forest resources sustainably and underscored the role of scientific research in monitoring population trends and informing conservation strategies.

The conservationists emphasized the critical importance of Kakamega forest as Kenya’s only tropical rainforest, highlighting its significance as a vital watershed and carbon sink.

Despite being a vital natural resource, Kakamega forest has faced threats from deforestation driven by poverty, logging, and agricultural expansion. Currently, less than half of its original size remains as indigenous forest, underscoring the urgency of collaborative conservation efforts.

The forum concluded with a renewed commitment to collaborative action, recognizing the need for collective efforts to preserve Kakamega forest for future generations.

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