Kenya Forest Service tasked with managing the forests, has an Enforcement and Compliance Unit (ENCOM) as provided in the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016 tasked with protecting this invaluable resource. The unit has an active uniformed personnel of 2,465 rangers trained at the Kenya Forest Service College in Londiani. With the global shift in paradigm regarding conventional security, the Enforcement and Compliance Unit has adopted the best practices in educating its rangers on forest protection.
Aside from the basic paramilitary training, the rangers are taken through courses on human-rights approaches towards enforcement that are essential in curbing conflict cases between the rangers and the community. This is also followed up by a series of refresher courses and specialized training in collaboration with the Kenya Defense Forces and the Police Service. The Service also has internal training programs that are aimed at building the capacity of the rangers in line with the execution of the mandate of the Service.
The Enforcement and Compliance Unit has a well-articulated administrative structure comprising of the Intelligence, Investigations and Operations offices that oversee the field operations of the rangers. These offices under ENCOM have been critical on the ground in the efforts of the Kenya Forest Service to achieve the 10% forest cover by 2022. Over the past 12 months, the rangers have been instrumental in recovering encroached forests. They have succeeded in recovering 4,500 hectares in Maasai Mau, 256 hectares in Makunga forest and 38 hectares in Nabkoi forest.
The rangers have also adopted the new frontier in forest management by involving the community through the Community Forest Associations (CFAs). These Associations have been successful in Karura Forest where the rangers train the forest scouts resulting in the protection and the rehabilitation of the pristine ecosystem. Furthermore, the rangers have engaged the community in the Dakatcha Woodland through an intelligence generating and sharing program that has been key in protecting the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), which covers nearly 2,000 square Kilometres in the rolling hills of Magarini Sub-county of Kilifi County.
The rangers, through a series of operations, have been on the forefront in containing the illegal charcoal burning that was rampant in Kajiado County. On a national level, over the past 12 months, they have impounded 43,306 Cedar posts, 17,492 bags of charcoal and arrested an approximately 2,504 offenders who were then handed over to the Police Service for the due law process. The rangers have also been engaged in multi-agency security operations at the dangerous Boni Forest with the aim of eradicating Al-Shabaab insurgents in a region that has been the hotbed of their operations. These multi-agency operations have also extended to the Embubut Forest. The 20,000 hectares forest has long been a major hiding place for armed cattle rustlers. The rangers have had the daunting task of engaging the cattle rustlers with an aim of apprehending them which has led to grave injuries and loss of lives for the forest officers.
Source: Kenya Forestry Services