Cultural Uses of Chepalungu Forest, Kenya: Case of Priority Tree Species for Traditional Medicine
Forest resources are part and parcel of human life. The wood, bark, leaves, fruits, seeds and roots of trees yield food, fodder, shelter and other numerous products used for subsistence of people living adjacent to the forest. Natural forests in Kenya are facing immense pressure from a growing human population. In recent past, there has been rapid depletion of Chepalungu forest cover. A study was conducted to identify highly valued trees for traditional medicine by the communities living adjacent to Chepalungu forest, Bomet County in Kenya, based on sustainable development strategy of forest resources. The study was carried out among communities living adjacent to Chepalungu forest. Study sites were four locations (Bing’wa, Siongiroi, Ndanai, and Abosi) in the two forest and interviewed; seven around blocks. Thirteen elderly members were identified and interviewed; seven around Kapchumbe and Kapchumbe and six around Siongiroi blocks. Six tree species (Prunus africana, Olea Africana, Podocarpus latifolius, Warbugia ugandensis, Ekebergia capensis, and Syzygium guineese) were identified for being highly valued for medicinal uses. The mostly used tree parts for medicinal purposes include bark, leaf, fruits and roots. Warbugia ugandensis is the widely used medicinal tree in the area and on average each herbalist extracts 170Kg of bark of the tree species identified per month. These tree species are used to treat various ailments including cancer, prostrate hypertrophy, stomach-ache, diarrhoea, fever, high blood pressure and STIs. The study revealed high cultural dependence of people on the Chepalungu forest ecosystem. This calls for multidisciplinary approach to enhance participatory forest conservation.