Kenya: 200 Ecotourism development sites identified

The Kenya Forestry Services (KFS) has identified 200 ecotourism sites
that can be developed into facilities, Raphael Mworia, head of
corporate communication. The announcement is the culmination of a
survey by a high level business development team from the government
body that visited major forest in the country to assess their tourist
potential. “These sites will be rent out to private sector that will
create them into tourism facilities,” Mr Mworia said, adding that the
intention was to change focus from the use of forests as a source of
wood only. KFS in August advertised for 13 sites, seeking expression
of interest to manage the sites. Twelve of them are in the Mount
Kenya ecosystem and one in Abaruko Sokoke forest at Coast, Mr Mworia

The response, he said, was overwhelming with 40 potential
investors expressing interest to participate. About 20 have already
pre-qualified and will be evaluated on technical and financial
capacity, Mr Mworia said. “We are in the initial processes of
licensing eight sites,” he said, adding that KFS will license at least
10 sites every year until the entire lot is leased out. Winners will
be given a deadline within which to make the businesses operational.
“This is in line with the new Forest Act 2005, which provides for the
establishment, development and sustainable management, including
conservation and rational use of forest resources for the social
economic development of the country,” Mr Mworia said. He said that
ecotourism has opened up new horizons in tourism industry. “Ecotourism
is now thought to be the fastest growing segment of the sector
worldwide and is viewed in many parts of the world as the next wave of
community development,” he said. The team also inspected mangrove
forests which are also under its mandate. Although mangrove forests
are protected, KFS chairman, Ochieng Obado, said that the Government
may lift the ban and allow residents to cut down the trees as a source
of revenue. He said that since the Government banned cutting of
mangrove, residents at the Coast have become poorer. If properly
managed, he said, mangrove can be harvested to benefit the residents
without hurting the environment.

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