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NASC 1001 - Environmental Science
1.1.1 LAND USE
According to Aldrich, (1981) land is the raw material of the site which is defined in terms of climate
geology, soils, topography, hydrology and biology. It is the basic resource from which man has
drawn his sustenance from Mather, (1986). Shaxon, (1989) indicated that land is a complex and
dynamic combination of factors which include the geology, topography, soils, microclimates and
communities of plants and animals that are continually interacting under the influence of climate
and people’s activities. Land varies from place to place because of the past differences as in these
interactions. These variations affect how land is used. This means that the diversity of land types
brings about the diversity of land uses.
Land use describes how man (Sabins, 1987) uses a parcel of land. (Lo, 1987) described land use as
a man’s activities on and in relation to the land. Another definition by (Briggs and Wyatt, 1987)
stated that land use is the relationship between land resources. Therefore, man for his sustenance
can see land as the use made of land resources. Land is used in many ways to satisfy people needs,
which include-
 As a site for cities, industries, movement corridors and recreational facilities
 Tilt to provide food, fibre, timber and water
 For mineral extraction and disposal of waste
 As a reserve of space and of genetic materials for future use and
 As a protected area for wildlife conservation
Beside its physical qualities and dimensions, land further has social, cultural, ethnic; class and
family dimensions that are reasons for people to understand land differently (Mwangola, 2001). In
Kenya, land means different things to different groups of people. To farmers and pastoralist land is
a source and a key element of living while to an elite land is a marketable commodity and access to
profit (Mwagore, 2002). Kenyan politicians and administrators on the other hand consider land as a
sovereign entity whose boundaries reflect a social, cultural and political identity, which leads to
unavoidability of competition between different interests in and attitudes towards land.
In human history land has always been a matter of life and death, survival or starvation (Mather,
1986) and is still is. According to (Mather, 1986) the use of land should have been and should be of
major importance to man. Mather, 1986 stated that land use is the product of human decision
operating within social, political and legal frameworks. Thus, the basic controversies in different
personal attitudes towards land are of different importance and lie at the root of many issues and
conflicts in the use of land.
In Kenya, the resources of land and the possibilities land enables are the most important issues that
affect peoples’ lives. Land is directly a requirement for life. (Kanyinga, 1988) argued in his article
that the land question as land tenure and land use cannot be handled only as an issue of wildlife
conservation and agricultural development alone, but the land question is at the centre of social and
political organization. In Kenya, land involves the development of the whole society and its
process. Despite the many human interest in land, land is not only for human to use, but also
environment has its’ needs for land. Land is the basis for rich biodiversity and nature
polymorphism. Thus, there is a growing conflict not only between different human desires but also
between man and environment as anthropogenic activities changes natural environment
1.1.2 Land Tenure
Land tenure is a systematic land holding that embodies legal, contractual and communal
arrangements under which people gain access to and utilize land (Obala, 1999). Land tenure
constitutes various laws, rules, procedures and obligations that govern the rights, interests in land,
duties and liabilities of the people in their use and control of land resources (Olima, 1999). Land
tenure systems also constitute those legal, contractual or customary arrangements whereby
individuals, communities or organizations gains access to economic or social opportunities through
land. The precise form of tenure is constituted by the rules and procedures which govern the rights
and responsibilities of both individuals, communities and interested groups in the use and control
over the basic resource of land. Land tenure systems exist through different norms whereby they
can exist through customs and traditions or through legal provisions of statutory law.
The land holding rights and obligations find their expression in the Kenya’s four main systems of
land tenure. These are freehold (private), state land, communal, and leasehold (resettlement) tenure
systems. The tenure systems affect and shape the property rights and natural resource access
regimes that exist in Kenya today (Seno and Shaw, 2002). With the exception of the resettlement
tenure system, which is based on Pell nits, the tenure systems which exist in Kenya are largely part
of the colonial heritage. The freehold tenure system is prevalent in the commercial sector, which
consists of large-scale and small-scale commercial farms. This sector is characterized by individual
ownership of land by virtue of a title deed issued under the Land Titles Act (Cap 282). The
registered landowner has exclusive property rights and full control and responsibility over the land
and everything attached to it. However, the extent of ownership and exclusive control over the land
and some natural resources may be limited by statutory provision. Such limitations relate to changes
in land use, controls over public watercourses, felling of indigenous timber resources and controls
on wildlife. It is often argued that freehold tenure provides landowners with incentives to conserve
and improve the natural resource base which is doubtable in the case of Rimoi ecosystem.
The communal land tenure system is governed by the Communal Lands Act and is applicable to
42% of Kenyas’ land area, where approximately 56% of the country's population resides (Gichohi
and Sitati, 2007). Furthermore, 74% of the communal farming areas are located in low rainfall areas
while the bulk of the large-scale commercial sector is in high rainfall areas (Gichohi and Sitati,
2007). According to the Communal Lands Act, all communal lands are vested in the State President
who has powers to Pell nit its occupation and utilization in accordance with the Act. Communal
area inhabitants thus have absolute rights over communal land, while the District county Councils
have no dispensation to allocate land to qualified persons on behalf of the state. Communal and
resettlement areas currently comprise more than 60% of the Kenya's total land area. The state has
also set aside 15% of the country’s total land area as gazetted /protected forests and national parks
& game reserves (Amend et al., 2008).
For the case of Rimoi, it is an Arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) region with vast amount of
untapped natural resources (Migot-Adhola, 1981). In terms of rainfall, the region receives an annual
precipitation between 500mm to 800mm. The main land use in the area is pastoralism, minimal
agriculture and dry season grazing (Campbell et al., 1991). The land tenure system, which exists in
the Rimoi could be described as communal in that the land is held in trust by a few selected people
under Land (community Representatives) Act, Cap 287 of 1968 on behalf of the members of the
clan/community. This model of land tenure was introduced in Kenya as part of the African Land
Reform Development (ALDEV) to improve on the carrying capacity of the land, the productivity of
cattle, and to control the ecological imbalance usually associated with such fragile ecosystems
(Kidemi, 2004). Also the existing land tenure in Kerio Valley can be described as trust lands or a
quasi-customary / communal in that land rights are held in trust by the county councils on behalf of
the resident communities. Because there have been no formal surveys or land Adjudication in most
of these areas, land is still held communally by various communities under customary tenure.
Rimoi Communal land were formed and incorporated only after the process of land adjudication
and registration had been completed under the Land Adjudication Act (Cap 284, of 1968) and the
Registered Lands Act (RLA, Cap, 300 of 1963). A group in this context refers to a tribe, a clan, a
family or any other group of persons whose land, recognized under customary law, belongs
communally (undivided) to more than five persons who are members of that group. Each group
selects about 10 of its members to be registered as trustees of the land by the Government. These
trustees can allocate portions of the land to the members for a specific use and can also mortgage
part of the land for monetary benefits on behalf of the clan/ group. All land disputes within the
communal land is amicably solved by elders and rarely end up in the Government High Courts.
For many years, these communal lands provided free dispersal area and migration corridors for
wildlife from the various National game reserves and national parks within the Rimoi and other
unprotected areas. These migration corridors act as biological/genetic recharge banks in that the
wildlife usually migrate to crossbreed with animals of different genetic species thereby improving
their genetic set-up. If the migration routes are closed or interfered with, wildlife may become
extinct from inbreeding. It is often argued that the subdivision of communal lands around protected
areas such as Rimoi national game reserve acts as a disincentive for long-term conservation of
wildlife migratory corridors and dispersal area and other key natural resources.
Kenya, an East African country is located on the equator (Reuben, 1972). With the size of 224,960
square miles, the country is roughly the size of France and one-eighteen the size of United States of
America. Kenya has a population of 40.1 million people (Kenya population Census, 2009) and is
projected to grow to 64.8 million by 2050 (Trzyna, 2010). The total area under water coverage is
11,230 km
and under national parks and game reserves is 25,334 km
while others cover 546,086
(Wishtemi et al., 2007). Geographically, Kenya is a land of contrast, the coastal region of the
country facing the Indian Ocean is low while major parts are plateau kind of land forms averaging
5,000 feet above sea level. Agriculture remains the most important economic activity for the
country although less than 8% of the land is used for crop farming. The rest of the land is arid and
semi-arid suitable for wildlife conservation.
Protected landscapes are strong options for the conservation of biodiversity in landscapes and sea
scapes that are significantly human influenced and inhabited (Amend et al. 2008). They often
contain threatened or endemic species of flora and fauna and are also critical areas for cultural
sustenance. Kenya has 10 million acres of over 65 national parks, reserves and private sanctuaries
which comprise some of the earth’s most precious yet fragile biological assets (Msafari, 2008)
hence constitute a direct component of Kenya’s heritage. As wildlife is one of the Africa’s greatest
natural assets and as an important economic resource for the tourism industry (Rutten, 2002) its’
conservation efforts are being threatened by the changing land use activities.
Kenya’s national parks and game reserves form the pillars of the country’s tourism industry (Akama
and Kieti 2003). Prohibited activities in a national park may include human activities such as
hunting, poaching or willful damage or removal of any object of geological, prehistoric or scientific
interest. In national reserves, land uses other than nature conservation may however be specifically
permitted, the conditions controlling such uses are included in the regulations agreed upon by the
authority at the time of gazettement. Exploitation in the form of seasonal water and grazing rights
by pastoralist is usually permitted in such areas.
In recent past, increasing subsistence demands of a growing population in Rimoi has led to the sub-
division of the communal land/group land. These sub-divisions have caused some ecological and
socio-economic land use conflicts such that prominent wildlife migration routes have been blocked,
the dispersal areas have diminished and the human-wildlife conflicts have been on the rise. Also,
there has been a major change in land tenure from the communal to individual ownership, with
subsequent problems of plot fencing, diminished grazing areas, and change from pastoralism to
sedentary agriculture by the communities within the Rimoi ecosystem. As a result, the limited land
resources in the area are torn between pastoralism, agriculture and wildlife conservation. This
situation has precipitated a series of land use/land tenure conflicts, which are threatening the
survival of the Rimoi Game reserve, wildlife conservation, and the Tourism industry upon which
many livelihoods depend including the Government for foreign exchange earnings.
Therefore it is important that these land use/land tenure conflicts are properly studied and mapped
in order to develop mitigation strategies. Many studies have been conducted to quantify the type
and level of land use/land tenure conflicts in Rimoi, Kerio valley basin (Migot-Adhola, 1981; Pratt
and Gwynne, 1977; ILRI, 2004). The problem is that most of the spatial data derived from these
studies are scattered in various organizations and have not been collated into an integrated
geospatial database that can be used for holistic planning of the region. As a result, a lot of funds
and resources are being wasted in data collection on land use/ land tenure conflicts in the Rimoi
basin communal lands yet the blockages of wildlife dispersal areas and migratory routes continues
unabated. Therefore this study investigated changing land use and their effects on wildlife dispersal
areas and migration corridors in Rimoi location, Kerio Valley
1.4.1 General objective
The general objective of the study was to determine the effects of changing land use and land
tenure system on wildlife dispersal areas and migration corridors in Rimoi ecosystem, kerio Valley.
The specific objectives of the study were;
1. Establish the land use changes in Rimoi
2. Identify the causes of land use changes in Rimoi Ecosystem
3. Determine effects of land use changes on wildlife corridors and Dispersal areas within
Rimoi ecosystem
4. Identify alternative land use which can integrate wildlife conservation given that
freehold tenureship is irreversible
1.4.2 Research Questions
The research questions which guided the study were;
1. What are the predominant land use practices in Rimoi eco-system?
2. What are the causes of changing land uses in Rimoi eco-system?
3. How does changing land use affect wildlife corridors and dispersal areas in Rimoi
4. Which areas in Rimoi are potentially suitable as wildlife migratory routes and
dispersal areas?
5. What are alternative land use practises that can intergrate wildlife conservation in
Rimoi considering freehold land tenureship is irriversible?
Administratively, Rimoi national reserve is located in the newly created Keiyo North district
which has the following administrative units:-
Table 1
Division Area in km
Locations Sub-Locations
Kamariny 210.5 5 19
Tambach 330.8 4 15
Total 541.3 9 34
Source: District statistic office, Keiyo, 2009
Within the administrative structure of Keiyo north district Rimoi national reserve is entirely in
Tambach division spreading over three locations and seven sub locations. The reserve has an area
of 66 km
gazetted in 1983 taking 19.95% of the divisional and 12.19% of the district land surface
Table 2
The spread of Rimoi eco-system in the administrative structure
Location Sub-Location Area km
Kiptuilong 1. Setek
Kamogich 2. Kessup
3. Rimoi
4. Annin
5. Siroch
Keu 6. Kabulwo
7. Kamoigon
Source: District Land office, Iten, 2009
Rimoi Game Reserve lies at the bottom of the Kerio Valley along the spectacular Kabarnet - Eldoret
road. There are no lodges or even campsites within the Reserve, which is probably a contributory
factor to the poaching problems within the area. It is probably also one of the least frequented
Reserves in the country and a pretty determined effort is required to increase visitation.
The national reserve borders Kerio River in Keiyo-Marakwet County, which flows northwards to
Lake Turkana. It is located at an altitude of 1,000-1,600 M. A. S (SARDEP, 2000b) and receives an
average of 700-1000 mm of rainfall. It is warm for most part of the year with temperatures rising to
between 22
and 31˚C. The Iten- Kabarnet tarmac road that traverses the Location in an East-West
direction is fed by several small roads. Rimoi location is spanned by three agro ecological zones.
The highland which is between 2,500-3,000 m A.S.L. which lies in the west, the Kerio escarpment
which lies between 1,300-2,500 m A.S.L on the intermediate, and the lowland (the Valley floor) in
the east which is situated between1,000-1,300 m A.S.L (Muchemi, Mwangi and Greijn 2002a;
2002b). The Keiyo escarpment has always been inaccessible due to the poor availability of service
facilities and roads, and people have settled sparsely along springs or streams. Traditional extensive
shifting cultivation for subsistent crops, such as sorghum and finger millet, has been long practiced
in the escarpment (Mizutani et al, 2005).
The study area has suffered from habitat loss due to land fragmentation, degradation, encroachment
and overgrazing with time. It has witnessed a rapid increase in human habitation and cattle grazing,
enhancing biotic pressure on the open communal land which is particularly acute in the Rimoi
location and across the kerio valley region and other areas such as Lake Kamnarok and Lake
Baringo conservancy which are also fragmenting due to land use change and tenure issues. The
losses of continuous wildlife corridors and dispersal areas along these regions are due to excessive
anthropogenic influences (KMTNC, 2001) hindering the movement/migration especially for larger
mammals within Rimoi. Poaching and harassment to the wildlife are a menace and conflict between
the human and wildlife on the increase due to deterioration of habitat quality along the dispersal and
corridor areas
With increasing human population and demand for land and its natural resources escalating, wildlife
and other resources are constantly under threat. Contemporary observation not only enable the
research community to monitor and event predict areas of environmental degradation, but they also
help in understanding better the complex human variables which are implicated on wildlife
dispersal areas and movement corridors. Roads building, land speculations, indiscriminate
deforestation, mining, creation of expansive pasturage and rapid agricultural activities and human
settlement are major culprits. Therefore the study focused on effects of changing land use/ tenure
systems on biodiversity, wildlife dispersal areas, planning and policy concerns of Rimoi such as:-
 Land use practices
 Land tenure systems
 Inequitable land distribution between local communities and wildlife conservation
 Government planning and policies on wildlife conservation in Rimoi
 Overall failure of development policies in the Kerio valley basin region
The scope of the study was to undertake a baseline survey of changing land use and tenure systems
in Rimoi, kerio valley basin which has impacted on the wildlife dispersal areas and the movement
corridors. The focus of the study included establishing land use types, wildlife dispersal areas and
migratory corridors, their blockage and their effects on wildlife species. Establishing and
evaluating the nature and level of wildlife conflicts existing within Rimoi eco-system as a result of
changing land use/tenure systems was also an objective of this study.
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