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Conference Dates: 
Fri, 2012-07-13

The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) held a very successful seminar on 13th July 2012 aimed at discussing the viability of adopting REDD+ as a conservation measure in the country. REDD+ stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries. The Seminar was held in the Seminar room at the Department of Clinical Studies, College of Agriculture, University of Nairobi.

The Seminar, dubbed: Is REDD+ a good policy option for Kenya? attracted more than 40 participants from various institutions including professors and postgraduate students (both MSc. and PhD)  from the University of Nairobi (UoN),  Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. There were also scientists from the National Museums of Kenya and some local non-governmental organizations. 

 “YES!” was the resounding answer given by an eminent scholar, Prof. Shellemiah Keya in response to the seminar question. He however noted that it must be applied within context and address real needs affecting local people. He was giving his remarks during a question and answer session after the presentation that was given by Dr. Sophie Chapman from the University of Cambridge and Dr. Rowena Maguire from Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. The two scholars were sharing their experiences on global policy aspects of REDD+, highlighting key questions that need to be addressed before REDD+ can take off in Kenya.

The seminar was opened by Prof. Jesse T. Njoka who is the Coordinator of CSDES. The don welcomed the participants and presenters to the seminar, the first in a series that will run monthly touching on various dryland issues. His sentiments were echoed by the Chairman of the Department of Land Resources Management and Agriculture Technology (LARMAT), Prof. Robinson N. Kinuthia, who emphasised the need to share information and knowledge as a central mission of the university.

The presentations covered a wide scope of issues relating to REDD+, ranging from basic definitions to contemporary policy questions that tend to be sticky especially in the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These include land use, emission (carbon) credits, links between REDD+ and livelihoods, and the importance of national actions. They highlighted key questions concerning REDD+ influences on land use by property law (such as land tenure), economic schemes and politics, and how institutions and national systems can seek to influence local level land use policy and legislation.

The five activities that they identified to define REDD+ include:

  1. Reducing emissions from deforestation
  2. Reducing emissions from forest degradation
  3. Forest conservation
  4. Sustainable management of forests, and
  5. Enhancement of forest carbon stocks

In their closing remarks, the presenters wondered aloud what local realities prevail that could influence REDD+ policy in the country. They noted that the context of application must directly address deforestation drivers and must involve primary stakeholders. The presenters were encouraged to partner with the College (CAVS) to seek entry points for education and research on the issue. Mr. Sam Mwangi, a PhD student in the Department of LARMAT,is doing his research in this area and seeks to explore some of these aspects.

Other issues that arose during the seminar were:

  • The need for the policy to address cultural practices such as land inheritance, a key reason for continuous land fragmentation;
  • The key question of indigenous forests under communal land ownership, which may not be addressed in the classic REDD+ model and can only be useful for demonstration purposes, attracting minimal investment;
  • The utilization of financial opportunities offered by REDD+ for rehabilitation of severely degraded forest patches in Northern Kenya, especially lands under use by refugee communities such as Dadaab; and
  • The need to develop lessons for scaling up REDD+ schemes.