‘FUTURE OF THE FOREST SECTOR; INSPIRING INNOVATIONS AND SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENTS’
Forestry Society of Kenya (FSK) concluded its two-day National Policy Dialogue on Thursday 26th September 2019 at Golf Hotel Kakamega. The dialogue was guided by the theme, ‘Future of the Forest Sector; Inspiring Innovations and Sustainable Investments’ with over 200 participants drawn from various government institutions, private institutions, county governments, universities and the community. The members converged to discuss the future of the sector and also deliberate on ways of investing sustainably in the sector. FSK holds dialogues and conferences annually to provide a platform for members to deliberate on issues affecting the sector and come up with viable solutions to guide policies and the public at large. After the opening, members engaged in a tree planting exercise at the KFS Head of Conservancy Office Grounds in Kakamega Forest.
The dialogue was guided by five themes namely; the evolution of the forest sector in Kenya and future trajectories, forestry research, milestones and opportunities, local policies and legislations, international policies, commitments and their achievements, and forestry investments. The keynote speakers and the discussants were drawn from both public and private institutions and also the universities. During the deliberations, it was stated that there have been tremendous changes in the forest sector stating the occurrences in the pre and post-colonial periods. The sector has faced many challenges and has recently been on the limelight following the eviction notice on Mau by the Ministry. Despite the challenges, the members were, however, reminded to uphold professionalism and integrity in their operations. It was also speculated that in the future there will be a dramatic shift in the public’s perception of forestry with most people appreciating and defending the resource. The technology will also change in the future with more innovative ideas coming along.
The speakers acknowledge the research done in forestry in terms of various tree species especially for the drylands and promotion of bamboo. The research organization KEFRI was challenged on increasing the tree species varieties. The members acknowledged the efforts made to come up with tree species that are viable in drylands such as Melia volkensii and Acacia tortilis. There are international and local policies related to forestry, some of which are being implemented. There are, however, policies and acts that have been presented that need to be finalized and enacted in law to ensure that operations in the sector are according to the stated law. Geospatial has a crucial role to play in forestry as it helps in monitoring of forest changes and alerting the relevant bodies.
The sector is evolving and there are many opportunities especially in technology and innovations that the foresters and investors need to tap into. Carbon trading is a new market that is evolving and Kenya should think in these lines. The wood deficit in the country is bound to increase in the future and there is a need for sustainable mechanisms to curb this. Farm forestry and plantations are some of the approaches to help bridge the gap between the demand and supply of wood and reduce pressure on the public and state forests. Private organizations and individuals are willing and ready to offer finances for the project all that is needed is proper business models and guarantees to the investors. Organizations in the sector need to complement each other and not compete.
The dialogue ended with members developing 5 position statements on various topical issues within the sector namely the Mau issue, Ogiek, 10% tree cover, the timber moratorium, and the plastic ban. The statements will offer the needed professional guidance and inform the policymakers and the public on the issues addressed.
After the dialogue the members, the members engaged in a free and fair election where they elected the executive members to lead the society for the next term. The members elected are as follows: