Mount Kenya: The economics of community conservation
Mount Kenya Forest is highly valued for its rich biodiversity, as a major water catchment area and for both commercial and subsistence use of its forest products As such, it has been protected in various forms since the early 1900s and was declared a protected area in 1932. Supported by wider moves to reform national forestry policy and practice, there have been several shifts in forest management methods since that time. Most recently, new approaches have been instigated that recognise the need to involve - and benefit - local people in conservation.~The paper illustrates how traditional exclusionist approaches to wildlife protection can lead to a situation where wildlife resources are not conserved, by economically marginalising local communities and not addressing legal, policy, institutional and market distortions/failures. It is demonstrated, through the use of different conservation scenarios, how a range of economic conditions and incentives can be set in place to achieve a situation where forest resources are conserved parallel to a growth in community economic welfare. However, it is concluded that, if community-based conservation is to be achieved, then firstly, communities must be able to acquire sufficient economic incentives so that they receive a net gain by sustainably using Mount Kenya Forest, and secondly, the Forest must be protected from the commercial interests of those from outside the area.