• The initiative is supported by the national government and nongovernmental organisations
• Mangroves are an integral part of the ecosystem of the coastal counties
As the world marked World Environment Day on Wednesday, Lamu embarked on a campaign to restore and protect mangroves as part of its efforts to improve forest cover.
The county has formed a community-led partnership that seeks to restore the degraded mangroves for sustainable use. The initiative is supported by the national government and nongovernmental organisations. It will also sustain the blue economy.
On Tuesday, the Lamu community, with the support of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), launched the partnership. The move is geared towards strengthening mangrove management on Lamu and its archipelago.
Mangroves are an integral part of the ecosystem of the coastal counties. They provide habitats and ample breeding ground for fish. They are also used for wood and boat building. Lamu Old Town has a historical significance and its entire architecture is tied to mangroves.
Mangrove wood and extracts are used for making tannins, dyes and traditional medicine. But overharvesting, infrastructure development, pollution, and climate change have contributed to the loss of 20 per cent of Kenya’s 148,263 acres of mangroves since 1992. More than 60 per cent of Kenya’s mangroves is in Lamu.
As a result, fishermen are struggling to find good catches and businesses to supply the construction and boat-building industries.
The stability of shorelines has also reduced. On Tuesday, TNC strategist George Maina said mangroves hold the soil together and prevent erosion, hence shielding inland during storms.
He said the partnership will help narrow the gap between science, policy and community-led conservation.
Activities under the community-led partnership have begun. They include field-based training on Faza Island. This is being facilitated by KMFRI to guide the local community and partners on mangrove restoration and management, establishing of nurseries and demonstration plantations in degraded areas of Pate and Kiunga.
Maina said partner organisations are also working with community conservancies, community forest associations and fisheries beach management units to map mangrove resources and identify degraded areas.
They are in the process of developing a participatory forest management plan that will guide communities in the rehabilitation, conservation, and sustainable use of the trees.
Lamu Station Forester of Mangrove James Owenga said all activities in the initiative are aligned with Kenya’s National Mangrove Ecosystem Management Plan of 2017-27.
He said the restoration protocol prepared for the Western Indian Ocean region by regional experts will be used to provide step-by-step guidelines to successfully plan and implement the entire restoration programme.
“Our objective is to have done at least 50 hectares of mangroves to replace the ones that have been degraded across Lamu,” he said.
Other partners in the programme are the Northern Rangelands Trust Coast, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service.
James Kairo, an author and chief scientist in charge of the mangrove programme at KMFRI said, “This is the first time the protocol will be tested with the community and we believe it will work well."
(Edited by F'Orieny)