The Ushirika Council, the apex governing body for the cooperative movement in Kenya, is rolling out a new concept of conservation cooperatives to be done in partnership with key stakeholders that include the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Speaking when marking this year’s cooperative environmental day at the Karura Forest in Nairobi, Ushirika Council Chairman Stanley Muchiri said the ideology of the cooperative approach, based on principles of solidarity, mutual assistance, participation and interest in the community, signifies development that takes future generations into account; that is sustainable development.
“There is no doubting the lead role that cooperative associations are called upon to play in building a viable model of development. Besides cooperatives adopt an administrative structure that is characterized by collective management, ongoing education and interest in the community, all aspects that are conducive to genuine sustainable development,” he said.
Muchiri, who is also the Chairman of the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, hailed the Community Forest Association model which is being used by the local community to protect and maintain the Karura Forest.
“This is a great example of the conservation cooperatives that we want to roll out countrywide in a bid to engage the public to take a stake in the protection and maintenance of our meagre forests while also earning a living from environmental tourism,” he added.
The cooperative movement represents a model of development whose very nature and definition link it inextricably to the environment including the protection of biodiversity, education on ecological matters, safeguarding forests, and the appropriate use of technology.
Kaura Forest’s Community Forest Association has managed to grow the number of visitors from a few hundreds to nearly 20,000 per month in just a decade.
The promotion of the cooperative model as an instrument to eliminate poverty, one of the greatest destroyers of the environment, will ensure a better management of natural resources, the conservation of environment and the rational use of natural forests.
The co-operative movement in Kenya is standing to be counted in the fight to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country. The movement, comprising more than 14,000 registered cooperatives with about 8 million individual members, has set its sights on deepening the role of cooperatives in environmental conservation, particularly growing the national forest cover.
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