Legislators, key civil society actors and international experts on forest policies are gathered in Nairobi today to discuss visionary forest policies at an Inter-Parliamentary Hearing on exemplary African forest policies. The hearing, “Forests for People”, is convened by the World Future Council with the support of the Parliament of Kenya, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the FAO Regional Office for Africa, and the Green Belt Movement.
In Kenya, dependency on forests is high. This includes support for food security, provision of raw materials such as timber, medicine and fuel wood. Over 70 per cent of the energy supply comes from fuel wood and charcoal. In Kenya, forest cover currently stands at 6.9 per cent which is equal to 645,000 hectares equaling only 0.1 hectares per capita compared with the global average of 0.6 hectares per capita.
Over 100 distinguished guests including delegations of Members of African Parliaments, Kenyan Governors, Senators, and Members of Parliament, celebrated the opening of the Hearing. Professor Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment assured “that my Ministry is committed to promoting partnership with the World Future Council and Parliament to ensure development and implementation of a quality Forest Policy and Bill that will transform the lives of our people.”
Councillor Wanjira Mathai commended the work of the World Future Council by stating that her mother, the late Wangari Maathai, was always a proud Honorary Councillor of the organization. She highlighted that forests, good governance and peace together must form the foundation of development. “For this it is crucial that we plan and monitor restoration very well and involve local communities, that we engage stakeholders in landscape scale restoration, and that we share our success stories”.
She also warned the audience that a battle her mother fought might be lost today and called out to the distinguished guests: “Karura forest needs you today more than ever! We need to see this forest secured.”
“We want to raise awareness to the fact that successful forest management is possible,” Ms Ina Neuberger, Senior Project Manager of the World Future Council explained the work of the organisation. “We believe that sustainable forest management presents important opportunities to address the issues of equity and justice.”
During the International Year of Forests 2011, the World Future Council presented its Future Policy Award to exemplary policies that sustainably protect, enhance, and utilise forests. The National Forest Policy of Rwanda, initiated in 2004, won the gold award and the Gambian Community Forest Policy received the silver award. In 2012, the World Future Council conducted an Inter-Parliamentary Hearing in Kigali, Rwanda.