FISH­ER­MEN IN KIL­IFI NET CASH AND MORE FISH FROM PRO­TECT­ING MANGROVES

Tra­di­tional at­ti­tudes to­ward mangroves are shift­ing, as com­mu­ni­ties get paid to con­serve the trees for car­bon stor­age

The Star (Kenya) - - Big Read / Conservation - MORAA OBIRIA FOR THOM­SON REUTERS

For fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Kenya’s South Coast, felling man­grove trees to make boats has long been a part of life.

But tra­di­tional at­ti­tudes to­ward the mangroves are shift­ing, as com­mu­ni­ties be­come aware of a new ben­e­fit from keep­ing the trees stand­ing: cash pay­ments for car­bon stor­age.

Res­i­dents pro­tect­ing and re­plant­ing mangroves are now sell­ing 3,000 tonnes of car­bon cred­its a year to in­ter­na­tional buy­ers, for about $5-$6 (Sh500-Sh600 ) a tonne. The money goes into fi­nanc­ing more for­est pro­tec­tion and restora­tion, and to com­mu­nity-cho­sen projects.

Mikoko Pamoja (Mangroves To­gether), the com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to pro­tect lo­cal mangroves and reap the ben­e­fits, is proud of its suc­cess so far.

FOR­EST RE­HA­BIL­I­TA­TION

“We have re­ha­bil­i­tated Gazi and Makon­geni pri­mary schools, bought text­books for the pupils and pro­vided piped wa­ter to the res­i­dents in both vil­lages,” chair­man Ali Salim said.

In 2011, res­i­dents of Makon­geni and Gazi vil­lages — home to about 6,000 peo­ple — be­gan work­ing with the Kenya For­est Ser­vice and the Kenya Marine and Fish­eries Re­search In­sti­tute (KMFRI) to pro­tect 117 hectares ( 290 acres) of mangroves, or about 20 per cent of the man­grove for­est in Gazi Bay.

Be­sides pro­tect­ing the trees them­selves, the ef­fort aims to im­prove lo­cal fish­eries, as many fish species breed and raise their young in shore­line mangroves, and build re­silience to wors­en­ing storm surges and coastal ero­sion, which can be slowed by mangroves.

Man­grove forests can also help reg­u­late coastal rain­fall, en­sur­ing sup­plies of wa­ter.

But man­grove forests are also par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive at ab­sorb­ing car­bon diox­ide, one of the ma­jor driv­ers of cli­mate change. James Kairo, a prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at KMFRI, said that man­grove ecosys­tems can cap­ture five times as much car­bon as sim­i­lar land ecosys­tems.

TWENTY-YEAR PRO­JECT

In 2013, the Mikoko Pamoja com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion signed an agree­ment with the Kenya For­est Ser­vice to sell car­bon cred­its from the pro­ject for 20 years and to plant 4,000 man­grove trees an­nu­ally to

BE­SIDES PRO­TECT­ING THE TREES THEM­SELVES, THE EF­FORT AIMS TO IM­PROVE LO­CAL FISH­ERIES, AS MANY FISH SPECIES BREED AND RAISE THEIR YOUNG IN MANGROVES

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