Citizen's perception of the willingness to pay for private forest certification in Kenya
The desire for responsibly managed private forests through certification is steadily growing around the globe. However, there is limited information on citizens’ willingness to accept or pay for private forest management certification in the process of sustainable development. This study used literature review and online survey questionnaires administered in a workshop set up targeting those with and without private forests to address this question. Results from Kenya substantiate that private forestry can contribute to sustainable socio-economic development and as such the sector is steadily growing. To augment this growth, the country has developed supportive policies and legislation for forest certification which provide opportunities for the participation of a wide range of stakeholders. Already, some Private Sector Enterprises have received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) certification mostly in the packaging industry. In addition, an interim FSC standard was launched by the government of Kenya in the year 2022. Various state agencies are already conducting piloting and field testing of certification. Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is conducting field testing of the FSC Interim Standard within public forests. Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has certified over 250 nurseries across the country. Kenya Forestry Research Institute has developed the Tree Nursery Certification Protocol, 2021 as a practical guide for tree nursery certifiers. This unwavering government support for forest certification may have contributed to the high level of willingness to pay or accept private forest certification among the study respondents who were already consuming certified products. However, certification faces a number of challenges, including; lack of regulations for operationalizing the private forest development incentives outlined in the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016 and lack of county forestry programmes. Thus, this study recommends the need for increased education and awareness on private forest management certification and conducting more studies on the type and market share of certified products from private forest that are consumed in the country and the speedy formulation of regulations for operationalizing incentives for private forestry development.