Enhancing Ecologically Sustainable Management of Deadwood in Kenya's Natural Forests

Sylvester Ngome Chisika, Chunho Yeom

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The need for ecologically sustainable management of natural forests has assumed greater prominence in conservation and climate change discourses. However, the identification of deadwood, a critical component of natural forests, continues to receive little attention around the world. Through a review of the existing literature, this study sought to promote consciousness and awareness on the value of deadwood using the case of Kenya's natural forests in the wider context of biodiversity conservation and climate change. Results substantiate that deadwood in natural forests performs a vital function in forest biological and ecological functions. However, forest degradation through the removal of deadwood, even though widely neglected, results in considerable biodiversity loss and might alter natural forest ecosystems, thereby exacerbating the impacts of climate change. In Kenya, despite the recent sophistication of forest management tools, including the development of the Draft Forest Policy, 2020, and enactment of the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016, to increasingly recognize the more progressive forest management paradigms such as participatory forest management in natural forest management, the current deadwood management practice is faulty and could yield outcomes contrary to the policy intentions and the wider provisions of ecologically sustainable forest management. It is because major policy documents lack robust and explicit guidelines on achieving ecologically sustainable management of deadwood despite its centrality in providing ecosystem services and as a highly dependable source of energy resources for over 70% of the Kenyan population. Moreover, deadwood management appears to be affected by many complex biological, technical, policy, and socioeconomic factors that appear to be acting together against sustainable deadwood management. Still, perhaps most importantly, the absence of research on the topic is the most outstanding challenge. Therefore, in the future, improving the sustainable management of natural forests will require the restoration of deadwood and increasing consciousness on the value of deadwood through more research studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6647618
JournalInternational Journal of Forestry Research
StatePublished - 2021


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