The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy
Forests and their related ecosystem services play an important role in supporting economic activities and human well-being. This publication highlights the importance and contribution of Kenya's montane forests or 'water towers' to its economy. The value-added by forest services to Kenya's economic sectors have either consistently been undervalued or ignored by headline economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Measuring and understanding the economic value of forests is important for decision-making processes including planning and budgetary allocations. The recently concluded UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) has re-affirmed and underlined the need to better account for natural capital and critical ecosystems such as forests and urged member states to use a 'new system of environmental and economic accounts’ towards a transition to a Green Economy. This publication represents some of the on-going efforts by the Government of Kenya in this direction, including its recently launched Green Economy initiative and the country's overarching development aspirations embedded in the strategic document entitled 'Vision 2030'. Among the six sectors identified as priorities within the Medium Term Plan 2008-2012 of Vision 2030, at least four (agriculture, tourism, wholesale and retail trade), which make up the largest part of Kenya's GDP, have linkages either directly or indirectly to montane forests and the crucial services they provide. Other sectors supported by forests include energy, inland fisheries and manufacturing.