How to Incorporate Indigenous Knowledge in Forest Education

Jun 27, 2024

Integrating indigenous knowledge in education is a good idea. In Kenya, mangrove forest management has become more sustainable.

Mangroves have played a long and important role in the history of human activity in Kenya. Mangrove forests cover about 61,271 ha of the country, supporting the livelihood of communities through various goods and services.

“Eighty percent of coastal communities depend on mangroves”, Henry Komu of Kenya Forestry Research Institute explains. “However, there are various challenges to mangrove management.”

Over-exploitation of wood products, high poverty levels, lack of alternative livelihood, minimal community involvement, and poor governance have enhanced the degradation of mangroves, hindering sustainable forest management. This has led to a series of bans imposed on the exploitation of mangrove forests, which has adversely affected the livelihoods of mangrove-dependent communities.

In Lamu County, the community asserted that they had been sustainably utilizing and managing the mangroves for ages, applying Indigenous technical knowledge and hence shouldn’t be denied user rights. They practice selective harvesting of mangroves using non-destructive hand tools and promote mentorship and knowledge transfer from the elderly to young mangrove cutters for sustainability. Harvesting is also conducted on a rotational basis guided by monsoon wind patterns. This system allows controlled harvesting, enhancing the growth and recovery of already harvested areas.

These traditional knowledge-based practices have contributed to the conventional management strategies in Lamu County, making them more sustainable.