Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Impacts of Participatory Forest Management on Community Livelihood: Case study of Kereita forest Kenya

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posted on 2021-11-23, 20:24 authored by Gichuki, Leah

Since the 1990s there has been an increasing shift in the management of natural resources from state control to participatory approaches. Many developing countries, including Kenya, have promoted participatory forest management (PFM) as a strategy for enhancing forest conservation and the sustainable use of forest resources through community participation. Drawing on a case study of the Kereita forest, in the central highlands of Kenya, this research explores the impact of PFM on community livelihood. Using a post-structural political ecology approach and qualitative research methods, I conducted and analysed 18 semi-structured interviews.  Results indicate that the implementation of PFM has changed how the community access forest products. PFM, through processes of inclusion and exclusion, has had both positive and negative effects on community livelihoods. New opportunities were opened, for instance, increased awareness about forest conservation led to a women’s group developing alternative livelihood pathways. In contrast, the development of a new eco-lodge disrupted community plans to rehabilitate that area.   This case study also reflected other critiques of PFM in terms of who holds ultimate authority; ultimately, the government retained a lot of control in forest management, and PFM processes have concentrated power with the government and channelled certain livelihood outcomes that benefit the already wealthy. These uneven power relations between the community and the government produce and perpetuate conflicts in implementing PFM hence hampering livelihood improvement. Furthermore, I argue that PFM has created and embedded both visible and invisible boundaries – through fences and permits, for instance – that regulate what takes place where, and who accesses what. To sustain the development of good community livelihoods through PFM, this research calls for continued interrogations of power imbalances within current PFM structures.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Environmental Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Thomas, Amanda