Mau at a Glance

- Participate in the “Save Mau” campaign by supporting the planting of trees. You can do it from anywhere at any time…  Just send a SMS to 5254.
- Express your support to the conservation of the Mau to your leaders and through the media. Forest conservation is critical to all of us, and to you.  Don’t remain silent, you are a stakeholder.
mau burning
Kenya’s closed canopy forest cover currently stands at approx. 1.7 percent of the country total land area. This is low compared to other African countries with an average of 9.3 percent and the world with an average of 21.4 percent.  Most of the closed canopy forests in Kenya are montane forests and are the nation’s water towers.  Among the most important is the Mau Forests Complex.

A natural asset of national and international importance 
The Mau Forests Complex forms the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem of Kenya, as large as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares combined.  

Being one of the five water towers in
Kenya and the single most important water catchment in Rift Valley and western Kenya, it is a natural asset of national lake_nakuruimportance.  Its forests provide vital ecological services to the country, in terms of water storage; river flow regulation; flood mitigation; recharge of groundwater; reduced soil erosion and siltation; water purification; conservation of biodiversity; and, micro-climate regulation. Through these ecological services, the Mau Forests Complex supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley and western Kenya, including energy, tourism, agriculture, and industries.  The Mau Forests Complex is particularly important for two of the three largest foreign currency earners: tea and tourism.
 
The Mau Forests Complex is strategically important in terms of water catchments not only for Kenya but also for the region. Its forests form the upper catchments of 12 main rivers that drain into five major lakes: Baringo, Nakuru, Natron, Turkana, and Victoria. Three of these lakes are international water bodies: Natron (Kenya / Tanzania), Turkana (Kenya / Ethiopia) and Victoria (Kenya / Tanzania / Uganda). Considering that five of these 12 rivers flow into Lake Victoria, the Mau Forests Complex is important to the River Nile Basin water resources.

An ecosystem critical to the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans
The Mau Forests Complex supports the livelihoods of millions of people in the Rift Valley and western Kenya. In the tea sector alone, approx. 35,000 jobs and the livelihoods of 50,000 small farmers, supporting both together some 430,000 dependants, benefit from the ecological services provided by the Mau Forests Complex.
 
The Mau Forests Complex is the home of a minority group of indigenous forest dwellers, the Ogiek. Many communities living in the immediate surrounding of the forest depend extensively on the forest goods and services. Urban dwellers also depend extensively on the Mau Forests Complex for their water supply.

Major economic contributions
tea_growing_areaThe market value of goods and services generated in the tea, tourism and energy sectors alone to which the Mau Forests Complex have contributed, is in excess of Kshs 20 billion a year. This does not reflect provisional services such as water supply to urban areas (Bomet, Egerton University, Elburgon, Eldama Ravine, Kericho, Molo, Nakuru, Narok, and Njoro) or support to rural livelihoods, in particular in the Lake Victoria basin outside the tea growing areas, the Mara and Ewaso Ngiro basins. This figure also does not reflect potential economic development in the catchments of the Mau Forests Complex, in particular in the energy sector. The estimated potential hydropower generation in the Mau Forests Complex catchments is approx. 508 megawatts, representing 41 per cent of the total installed electricity generation capacity in Kenya.

Key to long-term environment and economic stability
Looking forward, environmental stability and secured provision of ecological goods and services, such as those provided by the Mau Forests Complex, will remain essential to attain sustainable development in Kenya. They are cross-cutting, underlying requirements to achieve the Vision 2030 - Kenya’s development blueprint aiming at making the country a newly industrializing middle income nation, providing high quality of life for all the citizens in a secure and healthy environment.

Environmental, economic and security threats
Despite its critical importance for sustaining current and future economic development, the Mau Forests Complex has been impacted by extensive illegal, irregular and ill‐planned settlements, as well as illegal forest resources extraction.
 
Excisions (degazettement) of forest reserves and continuous widespread encroachment have led to the destruction of approx. 25 per cent of the Mau Forests Complex over the last 15 years: 61,586.5 hectares of forest in the Mau Forests Complex were excised in 2001; over 17,000 hectares of forest were allocated due to expansion of Group Ranches beyond their adjudicated boundaries; and, some 29,000 hectares have been encroached in the remaining protected forests. Such an extensive and on‐going destruction of a key natural asset for the country is a matter of national concern. It presents significant environmental and economic threats and underlines a breakdown of law and order, with potential for conflicts and larger ramification for internal security.
 
Non-respect of international obligations
The destruction of the Mau Forests Complex is a violation of several multilateral environmental agreements to which Kenya is a Party.  These include the East Africa Community Treaty, the African Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Government’s response: the Mau Task Force
 

In order to maintain the vital role of the Mau Forests Complex in contributing to the health and prosperity of the country, the Government decided to engage all the stakeholders, including all relevant Government Ministries, to provide a sustainable solution to the current crisis. A stakeholder consultative forum, comprising some 300 persons representing Government institutions, Members of Parliament, private sectors, community-based organizations (CBO), local and national non-government organizations (NGO), as well as international organizations, was held in Nairobi on 15 July 2008.  The forum was attended by the Prime Minister and ten Cabinet Ministers.  

The forum agreed to establish a multi-stakeholder task force, comprising representatives from relevant Government institutions, non-governmental organizations, affected communities and private sector. The Mau Task Force was officially launched by the Prime Minister on 22 July 2008.

 
The mandate of the Task Force was to formulate recommendations to the Government on:
  • An effective management structure to stop any further degradation in the Mau Forests Complex;
  • Providing for the relocation of the people who are residing in the forests;
  • The restoration of all degraded forests and critical water catchment areas in the Mau Complex; and,
  • Mobilizing resources to implement the above mentioned objectives and secure the sustainability of the entire ecosystem.
The report of the Mau Task Force was submitted to the Government in March 2009.  It was approved by the Cabinet on 30 July 2009 and by the Parliament on 15 September 2009. 
 

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