Boni-Dondori Sustainable Forest Management

Geographical location:


Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Kenya


The project aims to ensure the sustainable conservation of the forest landscape covered by Boni and Dodori national reserves and the Lunghi and Boni Forest Reserves (local government forest reserves) on the north coast of Kenya. At the same time it will attempt to support the empowerment of the marginalised Boni community. These open canopy forests harbour many important species and are equally significant to local livelihoods.

The project will entail an in-depth inventory of the biodiversity of the national and forest reserves with the aim of understanding the reserves better, a socio-economic study of the forest-dependent community (inside and outside the reserves), identification of components of project that need to be implemented and implementation of the components. A three year project is proposed.


Boni (Ijara district) and Dodori (Lamu district) national reserves are indigenous open canopy forests of the Northern-Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic. Both reserves were gazetted in 1976 and were curved out of the Lunghi and Boni forest reserves which are administered by Ijara and Lamu county councils, respectively. Dodori covers an area of 877km², and Boni comprises 1,339 km². Boni lies next to the Somali border, in the traditional dwelling region of the Boni hunter tribe, today reduced to a few hundred of people. Dodori reserve is named after the river ending in the Indian Ocean at Dodori Creek, a breeding place for dugongs . Boni forest reserve lies between the two national reserves, the Lunghi forest reserve lies to the west of both national reserves astride the two administrative districts. Dodori hosts a vegetal diversity mainly consisting of coastal and riverine forests, mangroves, swampy grasslands and savannah. Away from the rivers and channels, impenetrable thornbush is scattered with gigantic baobabs. At the Dodori coastal area, waterholes are frequently visited by gazelles, antelopes and waterbirds

Common herbivores in the region include hippopotamus, bushpig, warthog, buffalo, common duiker, topi and waterbuck. There is inadequate knowledge of the biodiversity values of the two reserves because of security problems. Between them, they harbour densities of plant species that are among the highest in the world, and they have been declared biodiversity hotspots. They also have bird species characteristic of the coastal forests of eastern Africa, including globally threatened species such as Sokoke Pipit.

Vital ecosystems in the area are not properly conserved and managed. Instead they are being seriously degraded at a high economical and ecological cost. Due to increased human population and settlement, there are conflicts arising in the wildlife, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. In the newly settled areas, parcels of land are cleared causing localized fuel wood shortages as well as soil exposure and erosion. Export of timber from indigenous tree species for the construction and furniture industries within and outside the reserves continues to exert pressure on the forest resources. Trees such as Brachystagia huilliensis (Muhugu), Combretum schumanii (Mkongolo) and Dalbergia melanoxylon (Mpingo) from Kenya coastal forests, including Boni, Dodori and Lunghi are the primary raw material for the woodcarving industry which is a vital element of the coastal tourism sector.

Conservation issues in the landscape can be summarized as follows:

a) Inadequate knowledge of biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the socio-economics of local communities for effective planning and management
It is generally accepted that there is little knowledge of the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of the remote national and forest reserves of the northern coast of Kenya. In addition, the intimate relationship between the ecosystem and local communities and other stakeholders are not well known. Therefore any current conservation work is based on incomplete information. Taking this into account, there is a need for basic knowledge on the biodiversity of the landscape, functional nature of the habitat and watershed, local patterns of drainage and rainfall, and the relationships between forest and people (local and other key stakeholders). The local Boni community has a detailed understanding of many of these issues and their traditional knowledge is a precious resource that needs to be tapped to sustainably conserve the landscape forests. Consultations with other key stakeholders looking for large tracts of land for economic purposes e.g. planned Qatari government land acquisition for maize production, Mumias Sugar Company interest in lower Tana and prospects by Better Globe Forestry Ltd for biofuels production in lower Tana are also necessary.

b) Actual boundaries of Boni and Lunghi Forest Reserves unknown
Although the areas of Boni and Dodori national reserves are generally known, various authorities give different figures. In addition, the acreage of Boni and Lunghi forest reserves is unknown. As the national and forest reserves are better managed as one ecosystem, it is vital to know the exact areas of these reserves so that agreements can be reached on which authority has jurisdiction over each particular reserve.

c) Inadequate common-vision approach to conservation initiatives
The national and forest reserves are administered under different authorities yet fall within a common landscape. In addition, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has an interest in gazetting both Boni and Lunghi forest reserves. Whereas the national reserves enjoy better protection from Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS), the two adjacent forest reserves, under the county councils of Lamu and Ijara districts, are less protected and endure the brunt of deforestation, degradation and mismanagement generally accorded coastal forests of Kenya. Despite the biodiversity richness of these forests, there is little incentive and responsibility for their conservation, a situation made worse by the general insecurity of the area. A common vision for the conservation of the landscape will ensure agreement on protection of the reserves between the local community, indigenous forest dwellers (Boni), national agencies (KFS, KWS, NEMA), local government authorities (county councils of Lamu and Ijara), corporate interests, politicians, and a host of other stakeholders who must be bound by a common vision and approach to the restoration of the landscape.

d) Deforestation and degradation of forest
While the Boni, Dodori and Lunghi forests suffer little by way of settlement or encroachment by farmers, they face a problem of deforestation from illegal logging and degradation through fires, the latter by the local community while addressing issues of livestock production (tsetse fly control and fresh grass for animals). Degradation compromises the ecosystem service and water catchment values of the forest.

e) Lack of an integrated overall ecosystem based management plan
An integrated ecosystem based management plan is needed to guide activities and to ensure they are consistent with an overall vision for the Boni-Dodori landscape, stakeholder interests, roles and responsibilities, community livelihoods, extractive industries (logging for woodcarvings and furniture), ecosystem functions and values, management infrastructure (roads, outposts, forest stations, watch towers, etc), management frameworks, available and projected resources (transport, fire fighting equipment, etc), law enforcement mechanisms, opportunities, threats and the means to combat them. The management of any ecosystem affects a wide range of stakeholders, and for effective management their participation is essential. Ideally this should start with the delineation of boundaries, understanding of the biodiversity and ecological functioning of the ecosystem, writing of a management plan and the subsequent involvement of stakeholders, especially local communities, in its implementation together with KFS, KWS and/or county councils of Lamu and Ijara districts.

f) Unsustainable livelihoods for forest-dwelling and forest-neighbouring communities
As long as the livelihoods of forest-neighbouring communities are unsustainable, the Boni-Dodori landscape will suffer ongoing degradation and will remain under threat. Demands for food (including agricultural land, forest fruits, vegetables, nuts and bush meat) and industrial wood (furniture and woodcarving by Lamu residents) are fundamental needs that must be met on sustainable basis. Unsustainable use is aggravated by poverty which forces people to exploit the “free” natural resources in the forest.

There are no significant conservation projects taking place in Boni-Dodori landscape, mainly because of the high levels of insecurity. However, the normal government departments are represented in the area, including Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and National Museums of Kenya (NMK), among others.


•By 2015, the area under sustainable forest management in Boni-Dodori increases by at least 25% from 2010 baseline.
•By 2015, community conservation approaches that improve livelihoods are under implementation around the two national reserves and two forest reserves.

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