A few minute’s drives from Nyahururu lies the scenic Lariak Forest that stretches several miles, covering the hills with indigenous trees. The forest extends eastwards from Maili Saba, Karandi, Ngarua and Tandare. This symbolizes the considerable impact the forest has on the daily lives of over 20,000 people in the region and beyond.
Lariak Community Forest Association (CFA) has over 830 members, of whom 500 are male and 330 females are direct beneficiaries of the forest. The CFA is organized into various user groups that engage in activities like tree nurseries operations, beekeeping, eco-tourism, poultry, fruit farming, and livestock farming, among others.
As the law requires, adjacent forest communities must have a participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) agreed between KFS and a registered Community Forest Association. With Lariak CFA’s Participatory Forest Management Plan and Agreement with KFS having expired, there was a growing need to have a new management plan signed. The lack of a proper plan presented limitations as to what extent the CFA could draw benefits from the forest.
“Our forest management plan and agreement with KFS on co-managing the forest as a community had expired. This made it difficult to exploit many opportunities within the forest fully. Although KFS has been very supportive, some things must be done within the PFMP.” Joseph Maina, the chairperson, explains.
Laikipia County is among the regions covered by the Forest and Farm Facility program under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). In its objectives to restore landscapes and improve the livelihoods of farmer groups, FAO identified Lariak CFA as a critical player to help achieve this noble objective.
The Forest and Farm Facility Programme, FAO, has invested Ksh. 3.1 million to support Lariak CFA’s review of the old PFMP agreement with KFS and develop a 5-year PFMP which will guide cooperation between KFS and Lariak CFA in conserving the forest and empowering local communities.
The funds are also expected to facilitate the CFA’s capacity development on tree nursery operations and management, greenhouse management, and modern water harvesting techniques.
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS), FFSPAK, and We Effect also provide technical support to ensure Lariak CFA maximizes the new PFMP, which is expected to usher in a new chapter for improved livelihoods for the community.