Written Paper

Soci-economic factors influencing environmental degradation in Kakamega forest complex, Kenya: The case study of fuelwood exploitation  [2005]

Makee, A.L.(Kenya Forestry Research Institute)

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For decades forest adjacent communities have depended on natural forests for their livelihoods. This practice was sustainable when the population was still low. However, with an increase in population accompanied by the ever-changing socio- economic environment in which these households operate, the exploitation of natural. forests can no longer be considered sustainable. Fuelwood is the most exploited forest product by the forest adjacent communities. The goal of this study was to identify key socio-economic factors that significantly influence the annual quantity of fuelwood collected from Kakamega forest complex by the forest adjacent communities with a view to making policy recommendations for the long-term sustainable conservation of the forest. A structured schedule/questionnaire was used to solicit information from a random sample of 235 households residing in five sub-locations. Secondary information from existing sources was used to supplement the primary data. Data obtained was analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis using Statistical Package for Social Scientists. The results of a linear regression model show that the quantity of fuelwood harvested from the farm, price of the fuel wood from the farm, land size, time spent on firewood collection per week and gender in marketing significantly affect quantity offuelwood harvested from the forest. The annual per capita off-take from the Kakamega forest was estimated at 4.32 m3
with 72% of it being marketed either as either firewood or charcoal. It is recommended that a combination of strategies be used to correct the unsustainable harvesting practices. These strategies focused on management, on- farm tree planting programmes, licensing, and provision of credit facilities, research, awareness programmes and promotion of improved conversion technologies among the forest adjacent communities.