International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Kenya

Legislative framework

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya contains provisions for the protection of the environment.

  • Article 10 lays out national values and principles of governance, such as sustainable development, that guide government action in implementing laws or policy.
  • Article 42 guarantees the right to a clean and healthy environment and requires the environment to be protected for present and future generations.
  • Article 69 provides for the sustainable use, management and conservation of natural resources to ensure equitable sharing of accruing benefits.
  • Article 70 reinforces the right to a clean and healthy environment and provides a means for enforcement action and compensation for those deprived of this right.
  • Featured Legislation

    1999: The Environment and Management Co-ordination Act (EMCA) was passed. This Act is the operative law on matters concerning the environment. It sets out general principles and creates administrative bodies which lay out environmental quality standards and provide for the inspection, enforcement and punishment of environmental offences.

    ​​2006: The EMCA (Conservation of Biological Diversity Resources) Regulations were introduced to mandate ​​Environmental Impact Assessment Licences for those engaging in activities with an adverse impact on any ecosystem.

    2009: Kenya’s Noise Regulations were established, prohibiting the production of any loud, unreasonable, unnecessary or unusual noise which annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health or safety of others and the environment.

    2009: The Wetlands Regulations were brought into force, empowering the District Environment Committee to coordinate, monitor and advise on all aspects of wetland resource management within the district.

    2012: The Land Act was signed, imposing obligations on the National Land Commission to identify ecologically sensitive areas that are within public lands and demarcate or take any other justified action on those areas and act to prevent environmental degradation and climate change.

    2013: The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 (No. 47 of 2013) was adopted. This Act provides for protection, conservation and management of wildlife in Kenya and related matters. The Act shall apply to all wildlife resources on public, community and private land, and Kenya territorial waters. The 119 sections of this Act are divided into 15 Parts: Preliminary (I); Establishment of the Service (II); Financial provisions (III); The wildlife regulation mechanisms (IV); Establishment of Wildlife Endowment Fund (V); Conservation, protection and management (VI); Establishment of the Wildlife Research And Training Institute (VII); Conservation Orders, easements and incentives (VIII); Human wildlife conflict (IX); Licensing and regulation (XI); Offences and penalties (XI); International treaties, conventions and agreements (XII); Enforcement and compliance (XIII); Miscellaneous (XIV). (Completed by 11 Schedules)

    2014: The Forest Policy was introduced. The overall Goal of the present cross-sectoral Policy is sustainable development, management, utilization and conservation of forest resources and equitable sharing of accrued benefits for the present and future generations of the people of Kenya. In particular, the objectives of this Policy are to: a) Increase and maintain tree and forest cover of at least ten percent of the land area of Kenya; b) Establish an enabling legislative and institutional framework for development of the forest sector; c) Support forestry research, education, training, information generation and dissemination, and technology transfer for sustainable development; d) Promote public, private and community participation and partnership in forest sector development; e) Promote investment in commercial tree growing, forest industry and trade; f) Enhance management of forest resources for conservation of soil, water biodiversity.

    2016: Fisheries Management and Development Act, 2016 (No. 35 of 2016) This Act provides with respect to a wide range of matters concerning the fisheries sector including fisheries management and conservation, aquaculture and fish processing and marketing. It establishes the Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council (“Council”), The Kenya Fisheries Service (“Service”), The Fish Marketing Authority (“Authority”), the Fisheries Research and Development Fund and the Fish Levy Trust Fund. The Act also implements obligations under international law concerning fisheries. The objective of this Act is to protect, manage, use and develop the aquatic resources in a manner which is consistent with ecologically sustainable development, to uplift the living standards of the fishing communities and to introduce fishing to traditionally non-fishing communities and to enhance food security. Guiding principles of the Act include, among other things, conservation and protection of fisheries habitats, ensuring the effective application of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and that biodiversity and genetic diversity in the marine environment is maintained and enhanced, encouraging the participation of users of the fisheries resources, and the general community, in the management of fisheries, application of the precautionary approach to the management and development of the fisheries at no less standard than is set out in any international agreement.

    2016: The Climate Change Act was adopted, providing a regulatory framework for an enhanced response to climate change. It also provides mechanisms and measures to improve resilience to climate change and promote low carbon development.

    2016: The Energy Act was created to mandate the government to promote the development and use of renewable energy, including biodiesel, bioethanol, biomass, solar, wind and hydropower, among others. The Act provides a useful supporting framework for the transition to a green economy with likely gains in environmental protection and climate change.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    Gazi is a small settlement located in the east of Kenya’s Coast Province; approximately eight years or so ago, the harvesting of mangroves for firewood and construction poles had depleted local forests, forcing fish stocks to decline and threatening the livelihoods of the 80% of the village who depended on the sea. The depletion of said resources forced locals to turn to charcoal burning and the felling of the region’s indigenous trees for firewood. In the wider region, illegal poaching of elephants, rhino and game was quite common, driving biodiversity loss. Today, however, the local village has a new health centre, schools and boreholes for fresh water. In fact, illegal poaching of iconic wildlife like rhino and elephant has fallen by 90% in six years, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. While theories abound as to why and how these changes have occurred, local villagers point to the village’s mangrove forests, which have gone from being a declining source of firewood  to a significant player in the local economy. Kenya’s mangrove forests serve as “sponges" for carbon on the planet, sinking as much carbon as four hectares of rainforest. the carbon is sequestered in the depths of rich, frequently waterlogged soil below the mangrove roots. The Mikoko Pamoja carbon project has implemented measures to conserve and protect 117 hectares (289 acres) of mangrove forest around Gazi, in a partnership between coastal Kenyan communities, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Institute, and the Plan Vivo Foundation, a Scottish charity. The Mikoko Pamoja project is one of the world’s first campaigns to turn blue carbon, like that stored in mangroves, into an economically viable initiative that could support local economies and communities. In exchange for ensuring the health of Kenya’s coastal mangroves, the project sells carbon credits, which can be bought as a form of “offset". The Mikoko Pamoja project has established woodlots of Casuarina trees – an alternative source of wood for construction poles and firewood. What is more, members of the village are trained on the economic benefits of conserving mangroves for carbon credits. Thus far, the project has traded the equivalent of 3,000 tonnes (3,300 tons) of carbon dioxide per annum  from its 117 hectares of mangrove –  the equivalent emissions of around 650 cars on the road each year.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Environment and Forestry: