From national targets to grassroots transformation

Kenya maps out county-level plans to combat land degradation
Chawia Forest in Taita-Taveta County, which serves a range of different user groups. Photo by Anthony Ochieng/TonyWild

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Unsustainable agricultural practices and the over-exploitation of natural resources has eroded ecosystem health on 60 percent of Africa’s agricultural and pastoral lands. For Kenya, land degradation is a particularly critical challenge: around a third of its land mass is classified as ‘severely degraded’, and the impacts of this are estimated to cost the nation over USD 1 billion every year.

In this context, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry convened a range of stakeholders in 2023 – including the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – to develop the Forest and Landscape Restoration Implementation Plan (FOLAREP) 2023-2027

The new plan guides landscape restoration in Kenya and provides a framework to operationalize restoration interventions, including the national programme for accelerated forestry and rangeland restoration. It aims to accelerate actions to restore 2.55 million hectares of degraded landscapes, through integrated forest and landscape restoration (FLR) approaches for improved ecological functionality and social and economic benefits, by 2027.

FOLAREP builds on existing opportunities to strengthen policy implementation at the community, county and national levels. For example, since April 2023, CIFOR-ICRAF has been working with FAO Kenya on the domestication of FOLAREP into county-level governance and implementation in the counties of Makueni and Taita-Taveta. 

The work is being carried out through a UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions)-funded project, Delivering nature-based solution outcomes through strengthened policy implementation, institutional capacity, and enhanced monitoring and reporting of forest and landscape restoration in Kenya. It seeks to scale nature-based climate solutions by strengthening capacity for implementing and monitoring FLR and mainstreaming gender-transformative, equitable, and socially inclusive restoration approaches.

Meshack Muga, national project manager at FAO Kenya and the FOLAREP lead for the project, described FAO’s work as to bridge coordination gaps between government ministries, departments and authorities, and other stakeholders as they work to mitigate pressure on forest ecosystems and associated landscapes. 

According to Robin Chacha, a research associate at CIFOR-ICRAF and the project’s coordinator, it is important to follow an inclusive domestication process because FLR involves a wide range of stakeholders, including forest communities and multiple governmental and non-governmental agencies. “We’re seeking to develop more sustainable management structures, in order to develop effective and inclusive county FLR programmes with robust monitoring and evaluation strategies,” he said.

John Mlamba, Taita Taveta County’s director for climate change and the environment, said the FOLAREP domestication process has initiated a county-wide dialogue on forest and landscape degradation, which has for too long been relegated to the periphery. The process has also supported the county government to map out degraded sites and quantify potential areas for restoration. 

Makueni County stakeholders deliberate over the FOLAREP plan. Photo by Ann Wavinya/CIFOR-ICRAF

“The support from CIFOR-ICRAF and FAO has enabled comprehensive public participation, which gives the process validity and enhances ownership of outlined actions,” Mlamba added. “FOLAREP will unlock opportunities for additional funding for restoration activities, while also enhancing coordination and fostering collaboration and partnerships.”

Having developed these plans, the two counties are working to integrate and mainstream climate-smart actions and interventions in a range of sectors. These include activities such as FLR in water catchment areas; promoting tree-growing in the hilltop areas where most farming takes place; promoting tree crops like macadamia and avocado trees on highland farms; and encouraging fruit-tree cultivation – particularly mango and citrus – in the lowlands.

More broadly, it’s hoped that successful domestication of FOLAREP in Makueni and Taita-Taveta will catalyze the rest of Kenya’s counties to follow suit and adopt their own locally-relevant versions of the plan, thus bringing FLR to scale across the country’s degraded landscapes. 



This project is funded by UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions), a unique capacity-building programme jointly governed and funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) through the UK’s International Climate Finance. It works in partnership with countries with high emissions reduction potential to support them to implement and increase their ambitions for tackling climate change.

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