REDD+ projects 4
Other readiness initiatives 39
Forest cover Low
Deforestation rate Low


REDD in Kenya

Kenya has 56.9 million hectares of land of which 3.47 million hectares are covered with forests, equivalent to 5.6% of the country, according to the 2010 Forest Resources Assessments (FAO, 2010). Kenya has a low deforestation rate and since 1990, the annual rate of forest cover loss decreased from 0.35% to the rate of 0.31% for the period 2005-2010 (FAO, 2010). The most immediate threats to Kenya's forests are linked to the rapidly increasing population numbers, agricultural expansion, unsustainable wood utilization levels, high energy demand, and over-grazing (Walubengoand Kinyanjui, 2010). Kenya’s forest resources are of immense importance for the environmental and ecosystem services they provide, for their contribution to economic development, for their contribution to rural livelihoods. The contribution of forests in water catchments is critical to Kenya’s rural and urban water supplies, and approximately 70% of power is hydro generated. Much of Kenya’s biodiversity and wildlife resources depend on forests, woodlands and dryland forest, being a major factor in attracting foreign tourism. A large rural population depends on woodland and bush resources to provide firewood, charcoal and other forest products which are critical to rural livelihoods. The plantation resources make a substantial contribution to economic development in Kenya and are an import source of raw materials for economic development in the wider region. In the mid 1990s, it was estimated that the saw milling industry provided 30,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs in Kenya. In 2007, the forest sector was estimated to contribute about 1% to GDP (Ksh 16.4 billion) to the economy, and that more than 10% of households living within 5 kilometres from forest reserves depend on them for subsistence resources (FAO, 2010).

Kenya recognises the importance of forests and natural resources and the Kenyan Constitution sets a minimum 10% national tree cover target. The country’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030, through its support to the other primary sectors of the economy, aims to protect the five major water catchment areas (Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mau, Cherangani and Mt. Elgon) and increase the forest cover to 10% through an aggressive afforestation, reforestation and restoration programme. Kenya does not have a specific REDD+ legal framework in place, however several legislative instruments and policies, particularly the Land Policy, Draft Environment Policy, National Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plans, Forests Act, Agriculture Act, and Environmental Management and Coordination Act informs its legal approach on forestry and natural resource management issues. Most of these policies and legislations are under review in order to align them with the Constitution. The National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS), has identified the forestry sector as a strong vehicle for undertaking both mitigation and adaptation efforts and intends to exploit incentives provided within the framework of UNFCCC, especially the REDD mechanism, to implement sustainable forest management approaches.

The development of REDD+ readiness activities in Kenya is well underway. Kenya is an observer country to the UN-REDD Programme (UN-REDD Programme, 2010) and it is a participant country to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). As part of its FCPF programme Kenya is developing its National REDD+ Strategy and implementation framework in addition to establishing a Forest Reference Level/ Reference Emission Level and a National Forest Monitoring System. The development of a roadmap to inform the establishment of a national reference level and a national forest monitoring system has been completed (Gichu A.N., 2012).

Institutional arrangements

In Kenya, the coordination of environmental and climate change policies at the highest level is the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources (MEMR). The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife is responsible for the coordination of forest conservation and management (KFS, 2011). The National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) outlines country wide coordination efforts to holistically address climate change challenges.

The National REDD+ Management will have a four tier, bottom-up decision making process and is proposed to consist of a National REDD+ Steering Committee (RSC), the REDD+ Technical Working Group (TWG) and the National REDD+ Coordination Office (NRCO). The NRCO will coordinate with the REDD+ Component Task Forces and the REDD+ Officer of each Local Forest Conservancy (KFS, 2010). Both the Task forces and the REDD+ officers will report to the NRCO, which will collate results and strategies and forward proposals to the TWG for evaluation. The TWG will then advise the multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial RSC, where final decisions will be taken (KFS, 2010).

Stakeholder engagement and participation

In Kenya, members of the REDD+ Steering Committee and Thematic Working Groups are extensively involved in providing expertise and implementing awareness activities in the country. Public participation in natural resources policy and legislative processes has been widely accepted in Kenya since the preparation of the National Environment Action Plan in 1994. The development of both the Forests Act (2005) and the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) involved wide stakeholder engagement and consultation. The Forests Act (2005) contains provisions on public consultations on matters relating to ownership and management of forests.

The stakeholder engagement on REDD+ took place during workshops of the REDD+ Consultative Group of the NCCRS and during the Readiness Plan Idea Note (R-PIN) formulation in 2008 (KFS, 2010b). During the formulation phase of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) a Consultation and Participation Plan (C&P I Plan) was implemented. The C&P II Plan describes that ongoing consultations, information sharing and awareness raising on REDD+ strategy, legislative and institutional proposals, and consultations related to demonstration activities will take place (KFS, 2010b). The C&P Plan II involves an online information clearinghouse managed by the National REDD+ Coordination Office, membership to the National Alliance of Community Forest Associations (NACOFA) and participation in the REDD+ Component Taskforces, (KFS, 2010b).

Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights

39% of forests are publicly owned and 61% of forests are under private ownership, inclusive of individual, business and local community ownership, in Kenya (FAO, 2010). There is a National Land Policy in the country that seeks to among others address the critical issues of tenure, land administration, access to land, land use planning and the restitution of historical injustices associated with land ownership. In Kenya, land ownership also means having ownership rights over the trees of the land (FAO, 2010). There is currently no framework for allocating carbon rights, although in some cases, the Kenyan Forest Service (KFS) offloaded all carbon rights to communities who have invested in management and conservation of specific forest blocks with climate change mitigation as an added benefit (KFS, 2010).

The Kenya Forest Reserve owns and manages all State Forest Reserves on behalf of the State, and regulates other types of public and private forests (KFS, 2010). In some sacred and cultural forests like the Kayas, the Ramogi and the Loita forests, communities do have rights over the use of forests (Mogoi, 2012). The process of decentralisation of forest governance to communities has been established through formally agreed management plans, and the initiation of Community Forest Assocations (Mogoi, et al., 2012). A study from 2012, however, noted that the decentralisation process is still in its early stages and there are few management plans approved. In the absence of these plans, the communities have use rights limited to non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and dead wood (Mogoi, et al., 2012).

Forest management

It has been recognised by various institutions, that Kenyan forest governance has previously been hindered by inadequate structural and institutional capacities, poor participation by stakeholders and weak forest policies (KFS, 2007). However, with the introduction of the Forests Act (2005) and the establishment of the KFS (2007), new incentive and enforcement policies are gradually improving forest governance and law enforcement. The Forests Act in particular defines the forest law enforcement, for offences such as timber felling and livestock grazing. The Forests Act is currently reviewed to be aligned with the Constitution. The Kenya Forest Service, through its Enforcement and Compliance Division has Forests Guards, whom are tasked with patrolling and surveying the forest (Government of Kenya, 2005). Kenya has signed up to various regional agreements, most notably the East African Protocol on Environment and Natural Resource Management (2006) and the East African Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (EA-FLEG) framework (2003) (KFS, 2010).

Reference levels

Kenya has not developed any reference levels, however has begun to embark on the process recently. In conjunction with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) programme as part of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) process, Kenya is planning to develop a historically adjusted reference level (RL), in order to quantify historical carbon emissions and develop different development scenarios and future emissions/removals trajectories (KFS, 2010a). Reference levels will be coordinated alongside the development of the national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system as defined by the R-PP process. Progress has been made on identifying institutional capacity requirements, reference systems and standards to be used, forest and land use maps and satellite imagery (Gichu, 2012).


The process of developing a national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system is discussed within Component 4a of Kenya’s REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP). This system will have MRV capability with monitoring and reporting occurring at sub-national and local scales. Deforestation and degradation will be monitored using a combination of remote sensing and ground based capabilities (KFS, 2010a). Community participation will be used for ground-truthing and where remote sensing techniques are not cost effective (KFS, 2010a). Data gathering and sharing at the local level is also likely to be shared via mobile communication networks (KFS, 2010a). The R-PP also outlines a monitoring system for social, environmental and other impacts of REDD+ implementation (Component 4b) and a Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (Component 6).

According to Silvestrum (2012) Kenya has an advanced ranking in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory completeness, yet has limited technical and forest monitoring capacities. To this end, national level activities are in place to build capacity, such as the development of the National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS), (Africa Geospatial Forum, 2011) and forest mapping and forest resource assessment capacity building under the Forest Preservation Programme, which is supported by the Japanese Government.


Social and Environmental Safeguards Assessment (SESA) are being developed as part of Kenya’s REDD Readiness Proposal (R-PP) Implementation Phase. The SESA is intended to be a participatory and closely linked to the Consultation and Participation Plan (C&P Plan) of the R-PP. The SESA will also draw on previous lessons from the Strategic Environment Assessment of the Forests Act by the World Bank (2007) and on the social and environmental safeguards of the Sustainable Forests Management Criteria and Indicators by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) (KFS, 2010). Four projects have been validated under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) and two projects by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), demonstrating they meet the set social and environmental safeguard standard requirements (CCBD, n.d. and VCS, n.d.).

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Gender Equality

References to gender equality exist in plans and policies in Kenya which may be important to take into account for REDD+ development and implementation. For example, Kenya’s Vision 2030 spells out the goal to achieve equity in terms of power, resource distribution between the sexes and improved livelihoods. More recently, in 2011, Kenya enacted a Gender Policy to promote gender equality and mainstream gender issues in all policy fields.

Kenya’s revised R-PP from August 2010 makes some references to the need to ensure gender equity and strengthen women’s participation in REDD+. For example, under Component 1(1a) (national readiness management arrangements) the National REDD+ Coordination Office has oversight for particular gender concerns for all aspects of R-PP implementation.

The R-PP also states that feedback on the activities occurring from the R-PP’s implementation can come from a range of entities and sources including from Maendeleo ya Wanawake, a national gender advocacy organisation that has elected representation from the national to the local level (Component 1(1b) on stakeholder consultation and participation). Finally, Kenya’s R-PP makes a reference to the application of safeguards to ensure that social and environmental impacts are minimised and mitigated. This may include addressing some gender imbalance or inequality issues (Component 2c).

Currently, some gender activities are performed in the context of REDD+ projects. For example, the Kasigau Corridor project/Rukinga Sanctuary aims to respond to forest conversion by providing alternative livelihoods. One way to encourage alternative livelihoods is the provision of elephant dung to a mushroom farm run entirely by women. Further, villages participating in the project are represented by committees which are subject to compositional requirements, for instance, for women.


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World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)