Of all the three classes of land ownership in Kenya, Public Land has the widest definition under the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Thus, Public Land has been defined as all that land that was neither privately nor community-owned at the time of the promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010:
62. (1) Public land is— (a) land which at the effective date was unalienated government land ....... at the effective date; (d) land in respect of which no individual or community ownership can be established ....... (m) any land not classified as private or community land under this Constitution; .......
Further, any private or community land that has no known heir automatically becomes Public Land:
(1) Public land is—(e) land in respect of which no heir can be identified .......;
Public Land is held (in trust) by government which under the country's two-tier devolved system, means the National Government and the 47 County Governments:
(2) Public land shall vest in and be held by a county government in trust for the people resident in the county ....... .
(3) Public land ....... shall vest in and be held by the national government in trust for the people of Kenya ....... .
Governments may indirectly hold public land through subordinate State organs:
62. (1) Public land is— (b) land lawfully held, used or occupied by any State organ, .......
As we stated at the beginning of this section, public land has a wide and extensive definition under the New Constitution and will strictly be backed by statutory law. Additional parts of this definition include the following:
62. (1) Public land is— (c) land transferred to the State by way of sale, reversion or surrender; (f) all minerals and mineral oils as defined by law; (g) government forests other than forests to which Article 63 (2) (d) (i) applies, government game reserves, water catchment areas, national parks, government animal sanctuaries, and specially protected areas; (h) all roads and thoroughfares provided for by an Act of Parliament; (i) all rivers, lakes and other water bodies as defined by an Act of Parliament; (j) the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the sea bed; (k) the continental shelf; (l) all land between the high and low water marks; (m) any land not classified as private or community land under this Constitution; and (n) any other land declared to be public land by an Act of Parliament— (i) in force at the effective date; or (ii) enacted after the effective date.