The mangrove forests of Gazi Bay to many might appear to be merely coastal cousins of inland forests, but this rich ecosystem supports the planet and people in unique ways, from providing breeding grounds for fishing.
Mangrove forests also protect coastal communities from storms and tsunamis and are efficient natural carbon sinks, locking and storing carbon dioxide at up to five times the rate of tropical rainforests. They also form an important habitat for fish and wildlife.
The mangrove forests are heavily used by local people as a fishing ground and a source of wood for building and fuel. Therefore, mangrove deforestation is widespread, with much of the forests cut down or otherwise degraded, leaving the shores of the bay muddy and vulnerable to erosion.
A project on mangrove conservation and restoration in Gazi Bay on the Kenyan coast is aimed at restoring the blue carbon ecosystem. The initiative called the Mikoko Pamoja is the world’s first conservation project to link mangrove forests to the global carbon market.
In an ongoing process around 4,000 mangrove seedlings get planted every year, which results in carbon savings to generate direct income for the community.
By managing the mangroves, residents earn ‘carbon credits’ which are awarded for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions removed from the atmosphere. Selling these credits has earned them 3 million Kenyan shillings (around 25,500 US dollars) this year. The sum helps them cover their needs.