7 MAY 2006
Speaker: Ms. Nyokabi Gitahi, Legal Assoc., African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
AWF with the support of USAID and the Conservation of Resources through Enterprise (CORE) Project has been designing and testing innovative mechanisms for conservation of land outside protected areas in Kenya. The aim has been to enable landowners to access a wide variety of options for conservation and sustainable natural resources utilization in targeted biodivers areas. The mechanisms include Land Trusts, land purchase, leases, easements and management agreements. Some of these are new and others are already in use by some landowners. Consultations between AWF, KWS, the Ministry of Lands and Housing to plan for the enhanced use of the conservation mechanisms in Kenya, resulted in the establishment of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust (KLCT) in 2005 as a charitable organisation designed to support land conservation with willing landowners.
The KLCT objective is to ensure the viable function and integrity of natural habitat on land outside protected areas and the populations they support, in consideration of the social and economic interests of landowners and communities. The KLCT, in partnership with landowners and other stakeholders will do this by: 1) providing landowners with an opportunity to use land conservation options including purchase, easements, leases and land management for land conservation. 2) Supporting the formulation of policies relevant to biodiversity conservation in Kenya such as land use policies and incentives for conservation of resources outside protected areas. 3) Establishing and ensuring the sustainable management of the KLCT.
The management of the KLCT is vested in a board of trustees. The first Trustees are representatives of AWF, KWS and the Ministry of Lands and Housing. Additional Trustees will be nominated to bring their number to 7-11 individuals.
The Secretariat. The day to day management of the Trust will be carried out by a Secretariat comprising of an executive officer as well as support engaged and maintained by the Trust. The Secretariat shall be based in Nairobi, initially within the offices of the AWF.
The Trust will also depend on landowners and local communities constituted into consultative committees of the Trust to ensure their active participation in the activities of the Trust in areas where the Trust will be working. The Trustees and the Secretariat will collaborate with these committees to develop and implement land conservation programs of the Trust.
The Trust will address itself to biodiversity conservation outside protected areas in Kenya. It will address aspects of conservation including wildlife migratory routes, dispersal areas, forest areas, wetlands and marine systems. The Trust will complement the existing institutional arrangements for conservation including KWS, the Forest Dept., as well as local landowners associations and government ministries.
Land Conservation Options
The following is a brief description of land conservation mechanisms available to landowners and the Trust:
In various parts of Kenya, critical pieces of land that contain fragile ecosystems come up for sale. Sometimes these parcels are purchased by entities that manage them for conservation. More often, these parcels are purchased and converted to agricultural use or other uses that degrade important ecosystems. The Trust will seek to purchase such critical parcels of land and conserve them.
The Trust will seek to use easements as another option for land conservation. A landowner may opt to conserve their land by placing an easement on it granted in favour of the Trust. The easement limits the type and intensity of land use. The landowner retains ownership of the land and may receive direct payment for the value of the easement.
The Trust will be seeking to lease land from willing landowners and to manage it for the duration of the lease for conservation purposes agreed with the landowner.
A profit is a right granted by a landowner allowing the grantee to obtain a specific substance from that land, eg., soil, grass, trees. The Trust will seek to use this innovative mechanism with landowners to conserve wildlife habitat especially for grazing ground and water points.
The Trust will also seek where necessary to undertake management of land and resources. The role of the Trust in such an arrangement would be provided for in a management agreement with the landowner.
TANZANIA STOPS 120 ROOM HOTEL PROJECT IN SERENGETI –
A SUPERB CONSERVATION PRECEDENT
Mike Mande reports in the East African, May 8-14, 2006, the several organisations are opposed to the opening up of the wildlife sanctuary for hotel construction because it would adversely affect the ecological system, not least the annual wildebeest migration. Construction of a 120 room hotel at Bilia in the Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania has been stopped until a dispute with both local and international conservationists is resolved. The dispute was triggered by a damning Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) compiled by the Institute of Resource Assessment at the University of Dar es Salaam, that indicated that the construction of the hotel in the park would have a damaging effect on the ecological system of the Serengeti and interfere with the animal migratory patterns. Serengeti is listed by UNESCO as among the World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves in whiich over a million wildbeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter million zebra are concentrated.
The Serengeti National Park, which on the Kenyan side of the border forms part of the Maasai Mara wildlife migratory route, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. Tourism is the second largest contributor to TZ’s GDP after agriculture
International wildlife management organisations and NGO’s are planning to take the matter to the International Court of Justice if the government goes ahead with the project. The TZ Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism was waiting for a recommendation from the Board of Trustees of Tanapa (TZ National Parks Authority), which is set to meet within the month, before it makes its final decision.. Among the international organizations opposed to the construction of the hotel are Unesco World Heritage Centre in Paris, the Frankfurt Zoological Society of Germany, the Conservation Development Centre of Ireland, and the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team of TZ. Tanapa has resolved not to continue with the project due to its ecological impact, and that all the stakeholders, including the investor have agreed not to construct the hotel in the park.
The new management plan for the Serengeti prohibits any further construction of hotels. The plan has checks and balances in place, with discussion involving all stakeholders in tourism, as well as environment and wildlife experts. The Serengeti Management Plan will be made public after minor changes.
On 1stMay, I was in Nairobi National Park. In the early morning whilst it was still cool, many butterflies were basking quite openly on the edge of the forest. The Croton Moth caterpillars have stripped all crotons as elsewhere in the Nbi area, at home they were so thick on the ground to a density of several hundred per square foot. I have never seen a plague like this before. Below Impala Lookout there is an extravert Broad-tailed Warbler posing openly on a ridge of Maasai Mint, then launching high into the air in a song flight. I had been at Olmanyi Dam for an hour, when a Madagascar Squacco Heron appeared out of the sedges, quite an early date for this first of the returning southern migrants. Barn Swallows were still in good numbers moving through, the only other migrant passerines being Sedge Warblers at Olmanyi and two Red-backed Shrikes at Athi Basin. At Athi Dam there were one Greenshank, two Marsh Sandpipers, two Wood Sandpipers and a Little Stint. The pair of Spur-winged Plovers were in the usual spot, the small Lesser Masked Weaver colony on the Causeway was thriving, and there were three Black-crowned Night Herons. Ruai Dam is not very easy to access at present; there as some bad patches from the “The Beacon” which could trap the unwary. Ruai had a female Knob-billed duck and a yellow-crowned bishop. Still the Cardinal Queleas haven not returned, although the area is full of cavorting Widowbirds.