This brief explains the impacts of conversion of indigenous forest to small- and large-scale agriculture on water, carbon and nutrient cycles, and the implications for forest, water and land health.
Our long-term research in the Mau forest of Kenya quantified the negative effect of forest encroachment and poor agricultural practices on the natural capital of the communities living on the edges of the forest and the livelihoods of those downstream in the river basin, threatened by soil loss and nutrient pollution of water resources.
We propose practical solutions that tackle the root cause of the problem and increase community resilience aligned with the implementation of existing national and sub-national policies designed to protect natural resources.
Solutions include the promotion of regenerative, holistic agricultural practices that preserve natural capital. In addition, enhanced governance of natural resources at the local level through joint activities between forest and water associations will contribute to the effectiveness of initiatives to improve simultaneously forest, water and land health.