In Summary
  • The canons address forest conservation threats caused by environmental governance system failures.
  • The proposed system addresses the gaps in participatory forest management (PFM) and the indigenous one.

  • It roots for involvement and the need for active engagement across all multi-scalar dimensions of governance.

There are resolute efforts to spearhead the environmental conservation canons of integration, involvement, collaboration and accountability (IICA) to ensure effective governance of sacred forests.

The canons, which adopt principles of effective governance, address forest conservation threats caused by environmental governance system failures.

To remedy these failures, a study on the governance system for sacred forests undertaken by this writer together with the University of Nairobi’s Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in November 2016 established the need to integrate gender as key element for effective governance of forests.

The report proposes a hybrid environmental system that reconciles indigenous and modern governance.

MANAGEMENT GAPS

The proposed system addresses the gaps in participatory forest management (PFM) and the indigenous one.

PFM is a modern form of environmental governance whereas the indigenous one employs taboos, ritual, belief, fines and sacrifices, among other practices. Consequently, their reconciliation derived the IICA canons.

The hybrid system ascertained the necessity to integrate gender as a key element to build sustainable environmental conservation policy framework. Actors including women, young people and institutions should be incorporated in conservation of forests.

POSITIVE IMPACTS

The report depicts positive impacts realised by integrating, involving collaborating and holding accountable the various stakeholders. It assesses the extent and patterns and causes of loss of sacred forests in relation to gender and indicates the importance of community inclusion in management and strategies.

Notable is the elaborate organisational composition at the sacred Mijikenda kaya forests. The kayas are composed of a council of elders with a chairman, deputy and members, security guards (usually the youth), secretary, women and children.

The structure, to a large extent, ensures that all actors contribute to the conservation of the forests in a structured way.

When both genders are fully involved in the affairs of forest management, conservation matters easily permeate across and stakeholders are eager to protect forests.

SPEARHEADED BY ELDERS

A case in point is the governance of sacred forests such as Kirima Hill in Nyeri, Giitune in Meru and Mtitio Ndoa in Kitui, as well as the kaya at the Coast.

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