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Forest sustainability is a global concern since forests are of great importance as
they maintain climate by regulating atmospheric gases and stabilizing rainfall. Forests are
also a home to a wide range of wild animals and birds. They protect against
desertification and provide numerous other ecological functions. This phenomenon of
forest sustainability was brought to focus in this study of Kieni forest in Aberdare ranges.
The research covered four specific objectives that explored issues influencing
sustainability of Kieni forest. The study explored literature review to capture what other
researchers/scholars had contributed to this subject of forest sustainability. The study was
based on a conceptual framework with four independent variables: Community
participation, Socio-economic status of community members, Community awareness and
Forest management practices, whose influence on the dependent variable (sustainability
of Kieni forest) were determined. The study was grounded on the Common property
theory as put forward by Agrawal Arun in 1997.
Cross sectional survey that is descriptive in nature was utilized to collect data
from household heads/ representatives who were 18 years and above. This methodology
was necessary in this study of a sample at a point in time (defined time). A sample size of
326 households drawn randomly from 1762 households based on formulae put forward
by Yamane (1967) was used in the study whose findings were generalized to the entire
population. Leaders of CFAs and KFS were sampled based on non probability techniques
and were interviewed separately. This yielded data that was of value to the study. Data in
this study was collected using quantitative tools mainly the Questionnaire, interview
schedule and interview guide. To ensure validity of the study, the research tools were
validated before use by use of the University of Nairobi educational experts’ and peers’
opinion. The pilot testing was done on the data collection tools to ensure that the tools
were reliable. Test retest method was utilized. The questionnaires were given to a sample
of the sample size twice in a period of two weeks prior to the main study. Reliability
coefficient from the sets of data was determined. The coefficient represents a correlation.
A correlation of +0.869 was got. This being above +0.65 indicated that the Questionnaire
was reliable thus could be used in the study to collect reliable data.
The data collected was edited, codified, tabulated and analyzed using descriptive
statistics by help of SPSS package. In the entire study the researcher upheld all ethical
values. The study found out that Kieni forest had some appreciable level of sustainability
since 400Ha of land has been planted with indigenous tree species in the last five years
and 200,000 tree seedlings were in the nursery in readiness to address degraded areas of
the forest. Findings indicated that community involvement in Kieni forest conservancy
was on a very minimal level (31.1%).
The study recommends that all stakeholders must be involved to ensure that Kieni
forest sustainability is upheld. Another finding in the study was that low income earners
posed a lot of pressure on the forest through firewood extraction both for domestic use
and for sale. The research recommends that the government through KFS, KEFRI and
local administration helps the local community members living in the environs of Kieni
forest to practice agro forestry to ease dependency on the forest.
In conclusion the government through KFS and other stakeholders to ensure the
level of awareness on the need to conserve Kieni forest is increased and each local
community member to participate in forest policing