Mikoko Project: Conservation & Resilience of Kenya's Mangrove Forests

First Research Workshop – Lamu Island

Ecosystem services rendered to people by the mangroves are directly affected by fishing, nesting of many fish species, access to firewood, tourism, education, research, protection and stabilization of the coastline, fixation of pollutants, and carbon storage. To mitigate the human activity on mangrove and enhance its conservation, it is necessary to have a better understanding and management of this fragile ecosystem.

Purpose…

The main objective of Mikoko Project is to undertake priority research, training and knowledge dissemination activities aimed at improving the restoration, conservation and sustainable management of mangrove forests. Through capacity building activities, Mikoko will reinforce Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in forest management and conservation while promoting enlightened eco-tourism.

A collaborative platform with project partners providing a discussion forum, a catalogue of documents, database on the mangrove flora, photo sharing, etc. will be established. In addition a website that presents the project and disseminates information on Kenya’s mangroves will be set up. The Mikoko knowledge base will detail identification of mangrove species information. Field data collection, workshops and training sessions will be organized in all mangroves forests on the Kenyan coast with a particular focus on the Lamu region.

The project “Mikoko” aims to respond to the solicitation of France by the Kenyan government to meet the challenge of managing the Kenyan mangrove ecosystem “strategic” for the adaptation to climate change, protection of biodiversity, and economic development of the coastal region. The preservation and enhancement of mangrove forests has becom for the adaptation to climate change, protection of biodiversity, and economic development of the coastal region. The preservation and enhancement of mangrove forests has become a major goal for the sustainable development of the country’s coasts, but also more generally of the East African coast. The mangrove forest, which is the interface between freshwater arrivals and the sea, is one of the most productive and rich ecosystems on the planet, and provides a number of services and benefits to local populations in the coastal area, and the global environment. It produces termite-resistant tree species and tannins, and contributes to the regeneration of fish resources over large areas with its nursery function (fish, shrimps, crabs). It filters turbid or polluted water, and protects the coast during extreme events. This unique, particularly dynamic ecosystem constantly adapts to the hydrological or physical changes of the coast. Its history and its riches make it particularly attractive for tourism. Mangroves are also the reservoir of carbon and biodiversity most threatened by the cross-impacts of climate change (rising sea level, climatic extremes) and socio-economic (coastal and port developments, agriculture, and reduction of freshwater inputs). Ecosystem services rendered to people by the mangrove are then directly affected: fishing, access to firewood, tourism, education, research, protection and stabilization of the coast, nesting of many fish species, storage of pollutants, and climate mitigation with atmospheric carbon storage.

The preservation and enhancement of mangrove forests is therefore a key indicator of global changes and the relevance and effectiveness of climate change adaptation strategies.

In Kenya, mangrove forests are located along 1000 km of coastline and are spread over five counties: Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale. Threats to Kenyan mangroves are both anthropogenic and natural. It is estimated that between 1985 and 2009, Kenya lost more than 20% of its mangrove cover, mainly because of human activity. Directly, the urbanization and the industrialization (in particular the port developments) of the coastal region threaten them. Indirectly, climate change (seasonal to interannual climate extremes) and its onshore impacts (decreasing freshwater inflow, land degradation, pollution, invasive species) or at sea (rising seawater, changes in salinity and surface temperature, impacts of storms) are amplified by human activities. In the short term, it is in the region of Lamu, where one finds 66% of the mangroves of Kenya, that the threat is the most important: this is where the “Lamu Port Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor” or “Lapsset Corridor” will emerge, destined to become one of the largest oil terminals in Africa. Its construction and exploitation will have a major impact on this fragile environment.

The main objective of the project is to restore and conserve mangrove forests so as to improve socio-economic well-being and ensure environmental sustainability. Specifically, the project will: 1. Improve knowledge of mangrove’s environment, its biodiversity and its resilience to climate change. 2. Train forest services to better understand mangrove ecosystem, its management and conservation while promoting enlightened eco-tourism 3. Communication and knowledge exchange activities

The project will put in place an original strategy for the conservation and enhancement of the Kenyan mangrove. The strategy will be based on the acquisition, dissemination and use of new knowledge. These three fields of activity are conducted together, structuring and feeding the exchange of knowledge on the mangrove and its sustainable management. Ultimately, the project will contribute to the human development of the most vulnerable populations in the areas concerned (in particular Lamu district) through the establishment of a sustainable blue economy.

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MANGROVE DAY COMPETITION STILL ON MANGROVE DAY COMPETITION STILL ON