•National Land Commission has embarked on coming up with a draft natural resource atlas for the country that it wants the public to give comments on.
•The atlas fosters transboundary natural resource management in the interest of national, regional and international conservation and development goals.
Kenya prides itself on being endowed with natural wealth, which ranges from the hills, climate, soil, and biodiversity.
The country also has a number of water bodies, wetlands, minerals and petroleum among others. But not all citizens know that they exist.
It is for this reason that the National Land Commission has embarked on coming up with a draft natural resource atlas for the country that it wants the public to give comments on.
NLC said some of the endowments are stressed.
“Despite these endowments, Kenya’s natural resource base, mainly forests, wetlands, dry land, aquatic and marine resources, are under severe stress stimulated by a myriad of forces,” the commission said.
Population pressure, deforestation, coastal modification, degradation of ecosystems as well as unsustainable use and poor governance of these resources threaten vulnerable habitats and biodiversity and, for a large proportion of Kenyans, livelihoods and long-term food security.
NLC has drafted a 136-page atlas that was developed with technical and financial support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
NLC says Article 69(1) (a) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 mandates the state to ensure sustainable exploitation, utilisation, management and conservation of the environment and its natural resources, and to ensure the equitable sharing of the accruing benefits.
The role of the Commission is to manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments and recommend a National Land Policy to the national government, among other mandates.
NLC with the help of FAO embarked on a journey to have an inventory of all the natural resources in Kenya utilising modern technologies with a view to improving the management and the use of natural resources in Kenya through cross-sectoral planning policies.
Natural resource management is a concurrent jurisdiction of both national and county governments.
The atlas is an amalgam of social, ecological, and geospatial data; packaged in a practical and visually orienting fashion to provide the much-needed visual effects as well as summaries of the status, changes and threats that quickly inform policy, decision-making, planning and sustainable management of Kenya’s resources.
Through an Inter-Agency Technical Committee (IATC) comprising representatives from relevant government agencies and the county governments, extensive data gathering and rigorous stakeholder consultations were undertaken to compile and analyse data and information from various institutional databases, reports and the internet.
Where applicable, historical and current satellite images of relevant places were selected and analysed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies.
The atlas provides an inventory of all land-based resources in Kenya with a view to creating necessary databases for information sharing, decision-making, planning and sustainable management of these resources.
Specifically, the atlas seeks to identify, map and document all natural resources in Kenya and provide access to information to the general public and decision-makers to support integrated and landscape-scale natural resource management in Kenya.
The atlas also provides a basis for the review, updating and formulation of natural resource strategies, policies, plans and programmes and enhances the capacity of regulatory and enforcement agencies including ministries, departments, and agencies and county governments (MDACs) on the management of natural resources in the country.
It also provides a framework for valuing (through monetisation or otherwise) services derived from natural resources and promotes the use of incentive-based instruments that perpetuate the continued delivery of environmental services.
The atlas fosters transboundary natural resource management in the interest of national, regional and international conservation and development goals.
GIS was also used to collect, manage, analyse and create maps used in this atlas.
NLC said a number of experts from different public institutions, research institutions and development partners were involved during the process.
“The atlas, therefore, promotes good governance and stewardship of Kenya’s natural capital and will be critical in advancing the oversight responsibility of the Commission," NLC said.
"This includes the provision of statutes reports, advisories, guidelines, rules and regulations, and ensuring effective management of what is known."
The Commission said the development of the country’s natural resources atlas not only meets the country’s legal and policy obligations but also is in sync with the Sessional Paper No. 01 of 2017 on National Land Use Policy as well as the National Spatial Plan 2015-45, which guides the long term spatial development of the country for a period of 30 years.
Members of the public have until April 30 to give their comments by emailing the Commission.