Features & Commentary
Kenya Advances its REDD+ Readiness Roadmap
The Government of Kenya is advancing its National REDD+ Programme by focusing on developing reference levels and a national forest monitoring system.
By: Patrick Van Laake
Two critical elements of Kenya's National REDD+ Programme are reference levels and a national forest monitoring system, as requested by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. Throughout 2012, the country has been developing a roadmap for the design and implementation of these two elements through a consultative process in which a large number of stakeholders from government (five Ministries and various government agencies), FAO, UNEP, NGOs (ie/ Green Belt Movement, Institute for Law and Environmental Governance, WWF) and civil society groups (ie/ National Alliance of Community Forest Associations) participated. The Government of Kenya organized three workshops to discuss technical issues underlying the reference levels and a national forest monitoring system and the roadmap itself, and circulated a draft of the roadmap twice to solicit further comments. The process was supported by the Miti Mingi Maisha Bora project (“Many trees, better life”, in Kiswahili language), with funding from the Government of Finland.
Kenya became a UN-REDD Programme partner country in February 2010, and it's also a country participant of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). In addition there are several REDD+ initiatives in Kenya that are supported by development partners such as Japan, Finland and Australia. Kenya's Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) to the FCPF was assessed in October 2010 and administrative arrangements are underway for disbursing the FCPF grant to the Government of Kenya. A National Coordination Office has been established at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to oversee the readiness activities. Meanwhile, several readiness activities are already being implemented.
Over the coming months the roadmap will be further elaborated, adding more detail to the individual tasks and considering options for implementation. Support will specifically be provided through the Kenya National Carbon Accounting System project, which is financially supported by the Government of Australia with technical support from the Clinton Climate Initiative. It is expected that full implementation of the roadmap may take up to five years, including institutional capacity building among stakeholders in Kenya. The roadmap is available on the Kenya Forest Service web site Kenya Forest Service website.
Kenya's REDD+ Context
In 2010 Kenya adopted a new Constitution, which has some profound consequences for the way that natural resources, including forests, are managed. In particular, governance over natural resources was devolved to county-level government and it was declared that the State shall, "encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment" and "eliminate processes and activities that are likely to endanger the environment" (Article 69). New Laws and policies are currently being developed to implement specific provisions of the Constitution, including a Land Policy and a Forest Policy, and issues pertinent to the Climate Change Convention, including REDD+, are being considered during the drafting process. For the establishment of Kenya's National REDD+ Programme and constituent elements, such as a national forest monitoring system, this is both a blessing and an impediment. It's a blessing because legislation accommodates specific issues such as carbon rights, engagement of local communities and minorities, environmental protection and monitoring, and benefit sharing. However this also means legislation and policies are still pending in some critical areas. Kenya's REDD+ roadmap has adjusted to this situation by being responsive to the provisions of the Constitution, while being generic with regards to implementation details.
At only 5.9 per cent of its territory, Kenya has a relatively low forest cover. Article 69 of Kenya's Constitution establishes that, "the State shall work to achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least 10 percent of the land area of Kenya". This provides a clear incentive for the National REDD+ Programme to expand its reach beyond the gazetted forest areas under government control to include lands that are communally held, such as the extensive dry woodlands in the north and east of the country. The aim is indeed to have an inclusive Programme that reaches out across the entire territory of Kenya. In the construction of reference levels, this broad territorial scope needs to be accommodated, and separate sub-national reference levels will be constructed for each of the distinct ecological regions of Kenya, with a composite reference level for the entire country made from the sub-national reference levels. The same national scope holds for Kenya's national forest monitoring system. It will be set up in such a way that all relevant stakeholders can submit and access data on the status of the forest land under their management. This applies not only to government agencies (ie/county government and Kenya Forest Service) but also to individuals, communities or private sector entities participating in local REDD+ efforts.
Patrick Van Laake is an independent REDD+ consultant, who formerly worked on the UN-REDD National Programme in Vietnam.