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Towards community environmental education using current institutional resources, GIS and remote sensing, and local knowledge: a case of the Nandi Hills and Nandi Forests, Western Kenya.
Nelson Mandela Bay
Nelson Mandela Bay, Univ., Ph. D., 2011
Abstract: The Nandi Hills and Nandi Forests in Nandi County, Kenya are major water catchments for Lake Victoria. However, these resources have faced significant decline and degradation in recent times, thereby impacting the hydrological quality and quantity in the Lake Victoria Basin. This study was informed by the observed degradation of the Nandi Hills and Nandi Forests, epitomized by the receding forest cover, drying up of previously permanent streams, instances of mudslides and rock falls, and downstream flooding. The study therefore sought to interrogate the current institutional environmental and educational arrangements and practices which are pertinent to the sustainable management of the Nandi Hills Forests, the perceptions and understandings of the local population in terms of forest resources and land use, and the information that can be provided by GIS and Remote Sensing data, in order to produce a heuristic for planning community environmental education in the Nandi County. To achieve this, a mixed methodological design which incorporated both qualitative and quantitative data was embraced. The mixed method approaches used in this study were the concurrent triangulation and nested/embedded designs. A four-tier analysis was carried out once all the data had been coded and grouped. The analysis covered three categories of the population in the study area; namely the households, institutions and community groups, and analysis of Landsat images for change detection. The study reveals that there are several state and non-state institutions that are involved in the management of the Nandi Hills Forests and that their efforts have seen an improvement in the perceptions of the local population in terms of the importance of environmental management of the forests. Analysis of the Landsat images has revealed receding natural forest cover. The contribution of informal, local and indigenous knowledge to sustainable management of the Nandi Hills Forest was notable (85 percent of the population attribute their knowledge on forests and forestry to informal knowledge sources). These results informed the development of a heuristic to enable the adoption of strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information for problem solving in developing and implementing community environmental education practices for effective forest management and conservation practices that are responsive to the needs of the Nandi Forest community.