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BATS: Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support
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Straddling the equator, on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is bordered by the Indian Ocean, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Lake Victoria. Kenya is known worldwide for its wealth of wildlife, particularly the big game species, and has been a top destination for wildlife-based tourism for many years. The country is marked by a great diversity of landscapes and climates, from the Indian Ocean coast to the Rift Valley and central highlands, to the fertile plains in the west and the arid northern regions. Kenya is also diverse culturally, containing a rich mosaic of ethnic groups and languages, mixed with European and Asian influences. While the majority of Kenyans earn a living through agriculture, other industries include consumer goods manufacturing, oil refining, and tourism.

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Institutional Transtion, Administrative Systems and Budget Preparation
The Forests Act of 2005 was a major milestone in the Government of Kenya’s (GoK) plan to establish a modern, enabling framework for sustainable forest management. The Act provides for the sustainable management of Kenya ’s forests for the socio-economic development of the country and for the conservation of important forest-based resources. One significant aspect of the new law is the creation of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a state corporation that will replace the Forest Department. The KFS will be a semi-autonomous state corporation charged with managing all State forests and with formulating policies and implementing guidelines and regulations regarding the management, conservation and utilization of all forest lands in the country. The transition from FD to KFS is an important component of the GoK’s efforts to reform the Forestry sub-sector.

The USFS is providing technical assistance to the newly created Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and to the transition of the Kenya Forest Department (FD) to the KFS. In 2007 a USFS team provided targeted assistance to this transition process by advising on the establishment of administrative management systems, the preparation of operational budgets, valuation of assets and by recommending staffing requirements for the new agency.

This USFS team performed an evaluation of the KFS’ current position in terms of personnel, assets and real property, finance and procurement; assessed the anticipated volume of transactions; reviewed current procedures for internal controls; and evaluated the various data that should ‘migrate’ to the new administrative system. Additionally, this team assisted with the development of income projections and an operational budget for the remaining months of the 06/07 fiscal year and for the upcoming FY of 07/08, including the identification of existing and potential revenue sources and costs to the KFS.

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Fire Management
Fire is a significant threat to the health of Kenya 's remaining indigenous forest and the viability of its forest plantations. Primarily due to human causes, fire destroys thousands of hectares of forest each year, with negative impacts on both the environmental services and biodiversity habitat the forest provides. Historically, the Kenya Forest Department has led fire prevention and suppression efforts. A serious effort to combat fire in the Mt. Kenya Ecosystem, the largest remaining stand of indigenous forest in Kenya, was undertaken in the early 1980s, with the development and partial implementation of a Fire Management Plan. However, termination of donor funding, retrenchment of human resources within the department, and limited funds to tackle this issue seriously reduced the Forest Department's capacity to effectively suppress and combat fire within this and other ecosystems. The result has been an increasing frequency and magnitude of fires over the last 15 years, leading to a higher rate of forest loss on Mt. Kenya.

Through the USAID /Forestry/ Range Rehabilitation and Environmental Management Strengthening Initiative (FORREMS), the Forest Department and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) are engaging in activities that will improve and enhance the management of the Mt. Kenya ecosystem, particularly forest resources. Capacity building in fire management is one of the focal areas of the FORREMS program.

Through a targeted program of technical assistance, the US Forest Service is assisting the Kenya Forest Department (now the Kenya Forest Service) and KWS in the development and implementation of a fire management plan for the Mt. Kenya Ecosystem. In February of 2005 an interagency team of USFS and Bureau of Land Management fire management and training experts conducted training activities focusing on fire-prone zones of Mt. Kenya, and developed a template for fire management activities in other areas. In addition, Forest Service technical assistance is collaborating with the two agencies to develop and implement a capacity-building plan in fire management. As a part of an ongoing collaboration, the USFS will continue to provide assistance in the near future to further develop the capacity of Kenyan fire managers.

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Information Management
Sustainable forest management depends on accurate and up-to-date information and a processing system that supports sound decision-making. Through the USAID Forestry/Range Rehabilitation and Environmental Management Strengthening Initiative, the Kenya Forest Service is engaging in a series of activities that will establish the enabling conditions for sound forest management. A key element of this effort is a program of enhancing the Kenya Forest Service’s capacity for electronic information management to support technical and administrative decision-making.

The US Forest Service is providing assistance to the Kenya Forest Service in developing their information management systems through a targeted program of technical assistance. In March 2005, a US Forest Service design and procurement specialist and a USFS data management and training expert assisted the (then) Forest Department in creating an action plan and budget to develop, operate and maintain an electronic information network, developing a department-wide information management policy and guidelines; and designing a training program using local, regional and international resources which will build capacity in computer skills, GIS and management information systems operation.

Please see USFS trip reports on FRAME:

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