Community perception on forests and birds conservation: the Case Kerita indigenous forest

David Kuria

The Kerita Forest is a part of the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest, listed as an Important Bird Area. Among Kenya's 60 IBAs, this area is listed in the highest priority class - 'Critical' - for conservation action. The Kerita (or Gatamaiyu) forest is particularly vulnerable because of the diversity of its trees, the high population density around it and its proximity to markets. The forest is known be of high biodiversity value, not only for birds but for plants and other taxa. It also forms an important watershed. However, its biological and environmental values are little understood by the local communities. This is evidenced by the exploitative behaviour and the lack of sustainable activities carried out by the community towards its conservation and management. Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO), a local community conservation group, recognises the need to develop an effective plan that will enhance conservation while promoting wise use of the Kerita Forest. As an essential step towards this the team proposes to undertake a project that will assess the current status of the forest and community attitudes towards its conservation. The long-term goal of the project is to ensure Kerita's rich biological biodiversity is conserved through involvement and support from the local communities.

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