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Nairobi Star: Shamba System Good for Forests, Experts Says
The controversial shamba system may be good for Kenyan forests, a new study published in respected Science journal suggests. It shows forests provide higher benefits to local populations and maintain higher levels of biodiversity when manage by local people.
The findings are likely to irritate Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and the Greenbelt Movement. She fought against the shamba system for more than a decade and won.
Shamba system involve landless communities in forest conservation by encouraging them to cultivate on previously cleared forest land on condition they tend their crops take care of seedlings.
But Maathai says it is unsustainable and destroys biodiversity. Farmers destroy trees and illegally extend boundaries.Researchers however says such "misunderstanding" is due to lack of research."There has been very little work to date which uses systematic and sufficiently robust data to try to move beyond this 'either/or' rhetoric in order," said Dr Lauren Persha, a research fellow at the International Forestry Resources and Institutions. The findings will add impetus to the government's plans to revert to the controversial system banned in 2004.
IFRI researchers analysed 84 cases in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Nepal and Bhutan to establish how forest-based subsistence livelihoods and biodiversity conservation are related.
Last week Wildlife and Forestry minister Noah Wekesa said the shamba system could help Kenya attain 10 per cent forest cover goal by 2030. Wekesa said the Forest Act 2005 will have to be changed for close monitoring.
Posted By Jenna DiPaolo at 2:50pm on April 14, 2011
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