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Dec 5, 2014 6 Min Read

A Research Grant and Dedication to a Landscape

The last two months have been particularly exciting for the Kijani team in Kenya. Supported through a research grant by the Tropical Resources Institute a lot of activities were made possible in Nairobi, in Marmanet, and other places. We have had numerous meetings with non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions, farmers, and entrepreneurs to conduct research about the challenges and opportunities social and environmental initiatives face. Here is a little bit of background.

Sustainable forest management has been a focus of international development and conservation efforts since the United Nations Rio Earth Summit in 1992. In recent years, international forest policy processes have deliberated about the potential of multi-level governance of forest resources to emphasize the contributions of active local participation in national forest policy making while increasing the legitimacy and traction of global policy frameworks. However, insufficient stakeholder consultations, or ineffective practice thereof, has often impeded inclusive forest governance at all levels and precluded local and regional groups from expressing their claims. Consequently, policies regulating forest use and access are often mismatched with the needs of local people. In 2005, Kenya has adopted a new Forest Act and introduced “participatory forest management” that gives more rights and responsibilities to Kenyan communities.

Forest Landscape.
Forest Landscape.

To identify options for civil society stakeholder engagement in forest policy formulation and implementation the past two months’ research aimed to assess people’s awareness of local, national, regional and global forest governance. To inform international forest policy processes at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) concerning local implementation of participatory forest management and conservation efforts, Kijani serves as a practical example for learning and sharing. Specific questions included: how to facilitate — institutionally, via structure and processes, and financially — the implementation of on-the-ground forest-related activities invoked by the national government and the United Nations; how to frame initiatives in a way conducive to achieving institutional support; and, what needs to be in place for initiatives to be (a) durable, (b) replicable/regenerative, and (c) upscaleable.

The meetings with organizations in Kenya, as well as a number of interviews with international policy makers at UNFF conferences have shown — who would have thought? That there are no simple answers to these questions. Indeed, if there were, why would there be the need to investigate them? Sometimes, it is not necessary to find the “right” answers, rather it is important to keep asking the right questions. Never-ending curiosity, the willingness to learn and adapt, and always trying to think one step further are essential ingredients to both motivation and success of mission-driven organizations — especially when no reliable paycheck lies on the table each month

Kijani team members and KFS officers in Marmanet.
Kijani team members and KFS officers in Marmanet.

Again, if it were easy, why would we need to worry about it? Kijani aims for long-term impact. Transformational change can’t be achieved by setting things in place at one point in time and letting things role from there. It requires an ongoing dedication to the landscape and its people just as much as a shared vision and humble belief in one’s own contribution to something bigger.

Albert Einstein once said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We are here to develop a new consciousness about the challenges we are facing, and we strive to bring a young generation of thought leaders and do-ers in Marmanet along with us. We are here to learn, we are here to teach and to share. As Nelson Mandela proclaimed, education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

Dickesn, Urs, Daniel, and David with seedlings in Marmanet.
Dickesn, Urs, Daniel, and David with seedlings in Marmanet.

We believe in the inherent good of empowering the young generation as a basis for their personal and professional wellbeing, to promote intercultural understanding in a globalized world, and to ensure the best possible future for our forests.

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