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The politics of forest governance in a changing climate: Political reforms, conflict and socio-environmental changes in Laikipia, Kenya
Forest Policy and Economics  (IF3.673),  Pub Date : 2021-09-20, DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102590
Benard Oula Muok, Marianne Mosberg, Siri Ellen Hallstrøm Eriksen, Dennis Onyango Ong'ech

In this paper, we explore the interactions between political, social and environmental changes and forest governance in Kenya, through a study of Mukogodo forest in Laikipia county. Drawing on findings from key informant and group interviews as well as analysis of policy documents, we argue that political reform processes – including devolution and changing land and forest policies – combined with “green militarisation” and socio-environmental changes have profound implications for the politics of forest governance in Mukogodo. The way policy reforms interact with wider political dynamics has important implications for the management of environmental change. We find that competing claims to authority both within and between communities are exacerbated by increasingly weaponised resource management regimes, electoral politics and a territorialisation of resource rights. Contestations and tensions between different social groups ensue as some gain secure access to forest resources while others do not. Claims to decision-making authority over resources or to socio-political positions in general are often made based on ethnicity, gender, age, clan, education levels or other dimensions of social differentiation. The way that groups and organisations portray others as mismanaging the forest – and themselves as solving the problem – also forms part of how authority claims are being made in forest governance. The result is a forest governance regime that exhibits less flexibility and cooperation between social groups living in and around the forest, thus undermining livestock mobility and other practices that are critical for the resilience of pastoral systems in a changing climate.