Forest owners and managers optimistic with newly launched interim national standard for responsible management of forests in Kenya
Environment and Forest Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on Friday officially launched the Interim National Standard for responsible management of forests in Kenya.
The new standards developed by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) have guidelines on global acceptable standards on forest management.
This comes at a time when more Kenyans are planting trees for commercial purposes, given the certification will open up international markets for upcoming entrepreneurs.
“The launch of the interim standard is a welcome move for the timber industry, it will enable the international markets to embrace wood products produced locally, it is a sign that materials such as furniture or wood have been produced sustainably,” Tobiko said.
“I want to encourage the Kenya Forest Service and other stakeholders to embrace the new standards, build on it to come up with national standards that will open up more opportunities in the timber sector,” he added.
The Standard is broadly based on the 10 FSC Principles criteria and indicators for forest management.
They include compliance with national laws, conserving areas with high conservation values, assessing environmental values and impacts, enhancing community relations, indigenous people’s rights, workers’ rights, and employment conditions, among others.
According to Anna Agasha, FSC regional Coordinator, the standard will be used by forest owners, managers to ensure compliance with the requirements for responsible forest management which confirm that a particular forest block or area is being managed in a manner that conserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
She noted that the standard will also be the basis for businesses and consumers to identify, purchase and use wood and wood-based products from well-managed forests in Kenya.
FSC Director, Harrison Kojwang, noted the initiative will streamline forest management and further allow players in the wood industry to easily access international markets.
He noted that due to the effects of climate change, some markets are sensitive and only buy sustainably sourced wood products.
“The certificate will make it easier for the international markets to easily accept our forest products, the Interim National Standard has instruments which are useful to counties, national governments, and private sector to assess the sustainable level of forest management,” he added.
Kojwang also noted benefits of the new standard to conservation and the general growth of the local timber industry, KFS Chief Conservator of Forest Julius Kamau said the service will FastTrack dialogue with other stakeholders to come up with a national standard.
“If you drive along Ngong Road in Nairobi today, you will see beautiful types of furniture, and you may think they are imported yet not, through certification such materials will easily be exported and embraced by international buyers keen on sustainably manufactured wood products like furniture,” he added.
Kenya is the fourth country in Eastern Africa to have an FSC standard for forest management. It was approved by FSC and became operational in May 2021.
In addition to enhancing responsible forest management, the use of the standard will boost Kenya’s efforts in the fight against climate change, having prioritized forestry as a key pillar,” FSC Eastern Africa Coordinator Annah Agasha noted.
Forest owners and managers are optimistic that the standard will enhance the adoption of FSC certification, which will create opportunities to tap into the ever-increasing demand for responsible wood and related products both in Kenya and on the international market.
At a meeting with FSC top leaders in 2020, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a body mandated to take care of forests on behalf of the citizens, noted that Kenya has great potential to certify its forests to international standards.
During the meeting, Kenya Forest Service agreed to commence an engagement with FSC in a pilot program to certify the Aberdares forest ecosystem and the Eburu forest to verify ecosystems services.