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

What about mangrove wood, honey and restoration in Lamu?

Our research activities continue, and this time bringing in new students for their fieldwork at Lamu: Katana Baya, Msc. Student (UoN), Tashrifa Mohammed, Msc. Student (Pwani University) and Jamila Ahmed, PhD at UoN. Researchers from different partner institutions (Dr. Linus Wekesa and Henry Komu from KEFRI, Dr. Musili Mutuku from NMK and Dr. Juliana Prosperi from CIRAD as well as KFS staff (James Mwangombe and Julius Nandwa from KFS) supervised this work. This mission also benefited from the support of representatives of the local community (Aboud Abdul, a Licensee and his woodcutters) and our field assistant from the Tana River (Kennedy Otoi).

The main objective of this mission was prospecting for three master studies:

• The mangrove wood value chain (Katana Baya)

• The production of mangrove honey (Msc Student Joan Nelima)

• Gender issues in the mangrove restoration initiatives (Tashrifa Mohammed)

Mangrove Wood Value Chain

A site proposed by Kenya Forest Service and a community wood licensee in Mkunumbi division named Bandari Salama (peaceful harbour) was visited for mangrove harvesting demonstration by the team led by Abdul Aboud. The site was accessible and rich in the following species: Mkanda (Ceriops tagal), mkoko (Rhizophora mucronata), mililana (Sonneratia alba), muia (Bruguiera gymnorhiza).

The team reaching Bandari Salama

During the fieldtrip, the team was able to witness the process involved in harvesting mangrove poles: from selecting the poles, cutting them, measuring the desired pole length, debarking of poles, collection, transport, control and monitoring of poles.

Abdul Aboud (on the right) with wood cutters
Wood cutters in action

Mangrove Honey Production

The team meets with several persons concerning the exploration of potential sites where honey is produced. Mr. Ahmed Boloki from Mtangawanda who practices the traditional honey collection, which is to say without beehives, he collects the honey in different places of the forest, mainly in the holes of the large Rhizophora mucronata. Mr. Ahmed explained that he harvests honey 3 times a week collecting 5 bottles of 1.5l and that honey is sold at $ 10 per liter., i.e. one bottle for 15$.

The team in front of a huge Baobab at Mtangawanda

In Pate, a team from Pate Resource and Tourism Initiative (PRATI) and BMU: Aboud Mohamed Aboud, Ahmed Twaha and Said Bakori Hanza led the Mikoko team to the place of honey harvest. Entering through small canals three beehives were spotted in different places, all on Rhizophora trees. This PRATI group seems to be quite organized, having around ten honey harvesting sites nearby.

Gender issues in mangrove restoration initiatives

The Mikoko team was fortunate to address gender issues in mangrove restoration initiatives during this fieldtrip. For the prospection on potential sites and the involvement of the population (gender issues) they met two people on Pate Island, one in Mtangawanda and the other in Pate.

In Mtangawanda guided by Zulfa, a very active woman involved in restoration initiatives, the Mikoko team could visit the planting and nursery sites, in an area degraded by lime production. Zufla explained to the team that the NRT trained 50 women on seedling collection, restoration and planting.

Zufla (on the right) with the Mikoko Team

She specified that three species are used for plantation Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops tagal and Bruguiera gymnorhiza and explained how to recognize them at seedling stage. She added that the plantation is two years old with 100% success. She referred to challenges faced by women involved in restoration, some of which were the activities of fishermen and wood cutters, the use of powerful oil saws, the production of seedlings, the lack of supervision / guidance from the KFS for reforestation actions as well as the impact of LAPSSET.

Tashrifa and Zufla at Mtangawanda Nursery

In Pate the Mikoko team collaborated with Fatma, another active woman who participates in the Pate Mangrove Women Restoration group. She explained that the chairman from Nature Conservancy was involved in this initiative from its conception. She said the activities are done four times a month on the morning. She specified that the nursery they have has about 1,800 plants, and that they plant in degraded sites (former limestone production sites)

A sample of Bruguiera gymnorhiza by Tashrifa

The women who get involved in this initiative have an in-depth knowledge of mangrove ecosystems and do a remarkable job. They are starting to be known by different institutions, which is very important to value the contribution of these women working in the shadows and that can have an impact in the conservation of mangroves. We thank them!

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