This is to remind all Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest that we have a special general meeting on Saturday 24 June 2017 at 10am at the KWS education hall at the Gede entrance to the forest. We are holding the meeting to agree for the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest to become a company limited by guarantee but we will still be known as Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
Chairman Tukero Ole Kina has given us a copy of his speech for the day which gives you the background as to why we are having the meeting.
If you are unable to attend and would like to send us your vote either way or your views please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preview of Tukero Ole Kina’s speech for Saturday 24 June 2017
In 1999, a few of you came together to form a community based organization you christened Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (FoASF) with the broad of objectives of protecting the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, its flora and fauna from the massive degradation wrought upon it secondary to the neglect by the statutory organs that have been established under the Forest Act 2005. You will be aware that the management of the forest is a shared responsibility between the Central Government, the County Government, the CFAs, ASFADA and lately other non-governmental organisations operating within the forest.
The community based organisation (CBO) that was registered on 7 December 1999 has achieved a lot, growing its membership from the first 22 who came together to hold the first annual general meeting on 22 August 2000. From 2007 until 2015 FoASF was dormant re-launching early last year and since then, we have recruited 174 Friends and are still growing. I was recruited by a combined force of our indefatigable secretary Deborah, our treasurer Lissa and Nicky Parazzi, whose charm and persuasion, suitable snacks and a professionally made glass of gin and most importantly the object of their invitation, were entirely irresistible. That is how come I stand before you today as a Friend and your Chairman. I am still learning and as you may have noted from our Facebook page, we have had a full calendar of activities. I encourage you to get out when you can and partake in some of them.
My Friends, upon recruitment, I found a committee made up of incredible people all dedicated to the task of realising the object of our association. It is a privilege to work with such a dedicated team and I thank you all for inviting me to be a Friend. The central theme of our undertaking is identifying the challenges faced by the forest its adjacent dwellers and coming up with clear cut solutions. We have therefore come up with various proposals that we shall be putting forward to you today that will enhance governance of our association, increase transparency in our operations and deepen membership participation in the running and management of our association. In this connection, we shall form sub committees and encourage you to join in the areas where you think you are able to contribute. The current proposal is to form a membership sub-committee, finance and fundraising sub-committee, communications (including editorial, publicity) sub-committee, merchandise sub-committee, education sub-committee, community liaison sub-committee and such other sub-committees as shall be necessary. We shall take advice from people more knowledgeable than us in setting the terms of reference for each of those subcommittees and put them to work.
With increased participation of Friends in these sub-committees, I hope to expand the reach and feel of our group and to also benefit from the knowledge of our Friends at large. We shall be communicating to you more on this as we go along. I encourage you to visit our Facebook page as well as our website and see for yourself what we are doing. Our secretary is always posting updates and as you will note, we have great reviews. You will also receive newsletters that will further enlighten you on our planned activities.
My Friends, successive committees have worked very hard to raise awareness and lift our association from a small CBO whose financial strength was about Ksh. 500,000, to an association that presently is managing over Ksh. 10,000,000, and growing. It is appropriate at this juncture that I should thank our donors namely, Minara Foundation, the Oak Foundation, AFEW, the Kenya Horticultural Society, Andy Thomas, John Fanshawe, Crispin Sharp, Vivien Wallis, Rupert Watson, Nigel Matthews, Isabel Nanton, Penelepe Deubel, Ann Robertson, Mandy and Jess Ruben and Gary Walder for their kind donations.
Since under the existing structure of the Arabuko- Sokoke Forest we are not and do not qualify to be a Community Forest Association (CFA) or an Adjacent Forest Dwellers Association (AFDA) as for instance the Arabuko-Sokoke Adjacent Forest Association (ASFADA), it is necessary that we position ourselves, as we have done, as a force working within the forest and its environs as permitted by the law. In this connection, with the assistance of Andy Thomas, who graciously donated a pick up and provided four motorcycles that we have availed to KWS, and with application of other ring fenced donations, we are financing the day to day operations of the vehicle and the motor cycles to ensure proper surveillance of the forest in a bid to reduce the serious degradation presently underway. We are in the process of securing appropriate communication equipment as well as GPS that the riders will have to better report and pin point areas that are under degradation.
We are also negotiating with the Kenya Forest Service, a partner in the forest so that we can also empower them by providing additional boots on the ground to better secure the forest. All these additional boots have been carefully selected from families that live around the forest. By having local people paid by us on the ground, we are sure to change the dynamics that have so far enable the massive degradation of the forest to continue. The little stipend given to the scouts goes as a direct benefit to the individual scout and his family and their interest in the survival of the forest is enhanced. It is in securing the neighbourhood of the forest and ensuring that those who dwell there are on our side, that the success of our objective lies. Without the local community on our side, we cannot win.
In order to win their trust and have a say in the future of the forest, we have had to come up with various measures that should we realise, will ensure that our presence in the forest and our will, will be imposed, to the betterment of the forest and those who live around it. We have therefore embarked on a recruitment drive for new members, increased awareness of our association and our work, gone into schools to encourage the creation of Environmental Clubs and with the assistance of the local education board, we are looking at the school curriculum so that we can built into it an element of education on the environment. Some of these ideas are at their infancy but once realised, I am confident that we shall succeed in our efforts here and perhaps influence policies in other regions. As Friends, we are not inward looking. We have to recruit the local community and imbue into them the sense of responsibility necessary for the future of our forest, our environment and our general wellbeing.
As a step in this direction, on Saturday 17 June, 2017 at the KEFRI at Gede, we distributed leaflets and other educational materials to 12 schools in the Eastern region of the forest and on 1 July 2017 we shall be holding another meeting at Matanomane Primary School where we shall distribute the remaining materials to the 20 schools from the Western region. I thank those of our members who attended the function and thank those who will attend the second distribution in advance.
We plan to work with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, and like minded people and groups others to develop a Shamba system that will help increase forests cover, produce food and at the same time reward those who will grow trees by receipt of cash and other benefits. We shall therefore seek funding for nurseries, a demonstration farm and develop ways to benefit from the existing Carbon Credit schemes for those living around the forest and beyond. There is no surer way of securing the future of these forests than for the local communities to have a direct benefit from its existence. They must have a proprietary interest in the forest. From the nurseries, we plan to work with the local community to replant some of the sections of the forest that have been devastated by poaching and indiscriminate felling of trees. We shall be fundraising for all these efforts both locally and abroad.
My Friends, the work that we are doing and the role that we are playing in the forest has brought us recognition and though we do not have a defined role in the management of the forest, I dare say that without us there, the future looks bleak. Figure this, one of our members has paid for water at the swamp for the last three years and he has put up a well for the community. Without his intervention, the people, the elephants and all the other animals that water at the swamp would have all perished. We cannot thank him enough for his generosity. Furthermore, without boots on the ground and without the necessary transport, the security of the forest will be greatly compromised. We have therefore financed the repair of the KWS vehicle and as I said, availed motorcycles to them and we are in the process of availing some motorcycles to the KFS. We therefore must continue fundraising and positioning ourselves to take advantage of our clout to impose our will and determine the direction conservation and the use of the forest and the private lands around it for the benefit of our future generations.
My Friends, this brings me to the structure of our association. It is a CBO registered under the Ministry of Social Services. Its existence is precarious as it has to be renewed annually. Conservation and management of natural resources is bound to bring us into competition and conflict with forces that may wish us harm and damage the future of our association. We cannot move into the future as presently constituted. As a CBO without perpetual succession we can easily be struck off and deregistered, we cannot legally own property and our legal structure can be an impediment to future growth and activism our fundraising efforts will be thwarted. The Minara Foundation for instance who have donated US$ 60,000 and have promised more, only agreed to donate on the understanding that we are transforming ourselves into a more robust and stable entity. That is why I have recommended to you that we transform ourselves into a Public Limited Liability Company, limited by guarantee. As a company limited by guarantee, we are permitted to omit the term Limited from our name and yet receive all the benefits of a limited liability company. This will ensure that the liability of our members is limited, it is a proper charitable legal entity that can own its own property and your members who agree to be involved in the management of its affairs do not risk a lot of personal liability in the event of insolvency arising from the withdrawal of funding for instance. The management and operations can also be properly structured using best practices that will enhance good corporate governance, transparency and accountability. With this vehicle, we hope to create a Forest Management Plan or a Public Private Partnership Management Plan (PPP) with the current stake holders or enter into agency agreements with the existing CFAs as permitted by our current legal framework and manage the forest.
As your Chairman, I assure you that the committee that I chair is very dedicated and ready to work. The future of this organisation is bright. I commend the resolution to you.
Thank you my Friends, ladies and gentlemen.