Trees and Farm Boundaries: Farm Forestry, Land Tenure and Reform in Kenya

Africa, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 217-235, 1995

19 Pages Posted: 18 May 2011

See all articles by Peter A. Dewees

Peter A. Dewees

Agriculture and Rural Development Department, World Bank

Date Written: 1995

Abstract

Simple observation in many high-potential agricultural areas of Kenya informs the casual observer that protected, cultivated and managed trees have assumed an important place as one of many smallholder land-use options. The observation poses a number of contradictions to conventional views of smallholder agriculture. Population pressures in many areas of Kenya have become extreme, but it is in precisely these areas, where pressures on agricultural land are greatest, that the area of land used for growing trees (rather than for other crops or land uses) can be quite substantial. The rural afforestation efforts of government, aid agencies and local organisations in Kenya have seldom taken account of the extent of existing tree-growing activities. Even when they have, the assumption is usually that tree planting on farms is a recent outcome of externally developed initiatives. There is little thought given to the possibility that farmers could have undertaken these initiatives on their own, independently of any external assistance. We seek to show in this article that a number of tree-planting practices, particularly the planting of trees on field boundaries, antedate contemporary 'social forestry' interventions, and indeed, antedate colonial settlement. We seek further to explore the origins of these practices as they were related to customary land tenure.

Keywords: rural landscapes, tenure, forestry, agroforestry, boundaries, customary law

JEL Classification: N57, Q00, Q15, Q23

Suggested Citation

Dewees, Peter A., Trees and Farm Boundaries: Farm Forestry, Land Tenure and Reform in Kenya (1995). Africa, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 217-235, 1995, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1745136

Peter A. Dewees (Contact Author)

Agriculture and Rural Development Department, World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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