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Wall of mangroves along coastline to aid in carbon capture initiatives

 Women in the Maritime Sector in East and Southern Africa (WOMESA) members together with Kenya Coast Guard Service officials during a mangrove tree plating exercise in Shanzu recently. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Efforts are underway to build a green wall of mangrove trees along the coastlines to help fight against climate change. The initiative has brought on board both state and non-state actors.

Mangroves are the only trees that grow in salt water and they consist of a huge forest in the Kenyan coastline covering 60,000 hectares which is approximately three per cent of natural forest cover.

They are found in Lamu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale and parts of Tana River counties. However, their survival has been threatened by human activities in the past.

According to various research, mangroves absorb and store huge quantities of carbon; they absorb five times more carbon than terrestrial forests due to their waterlogged sediments.

“We must increase the mangrove along the coastal line as it captures carbon dioxide five times from the air than any other plant in the world,” said Costa Rica’s Ambassador to Kenya Giovanna Stark.

The envoy challenged communities to mitigate against the effects of clime change through the promotion of biodiversity, and elimination of single-use plastics polluting the shores.

Data from Kenya Forest Service shows that there are 21,000 acres of mangrove ecosystem in the five counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and Tana River.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamand Nassir’s administration estimates that Mombasa, which has the largest mangrove cover of 3,700 acres, has lost about 30 per cent of the forest.

In Kilifi, the mangrove forest cover of 10,000 hectares. But Kenya Forest Service (KFS) says that 4,000 hectares were degraded by the local communities between 1985 and 2009.

The locals use the trees for timber, firewood and burning of charcoal. Quick intervention by state and non-state actors through continuous awareness and sensitisation on the importance of mangrove has seen the communities residing along the mangrove forests devise non-destructive ways of livelihoods within the mangrove ecosystem and tap into the blue economy.

During the tour of the Coast, Ms Stark and Kwale governor Fatuma Achani visited Kibuyuni in Pongwe/Kikoneni ward in Lunga Lunga sub-county to experience seaweed farming activities. They later visited Tunusuru Women Conservation Group in Munje village Ramisi Ward in Msambweni sub-county to see their mangrove conservation and restoration activities.

Another stakeholder in the fight against carbon dioxide emission in Mombasa is Jambo Jet Airline which has admitted it was among the air polluters.

Jambo Jet Chief Executive Karanja Ndegwa said he had joined the initiative because his company was among those that emitted carbon dioxide through its planes.

Ndegwa revealed this when he joined Mombasa Kilindini Community Forest Association to plant mangrove trees to help in cleaning the air the jets are always emitting

“We are supporting the community to plant 5,000 mangrove seedlings to help in cleaning the air which is always polluted by our aircraft plying between Nairobi and Mombasa,” said Ndegwa.

He said mangroves serve as breathing ground for fish and helps in the consecration of carbon 5 times more than other trees.

“Apart from being breathing ground for fish and breaking down of Carbon Dioxide, the mangroves provide a barrier if well protected,” said Ndegwa.

Meanwhile, Kenya Ports Authority has joined other stakeholders in the fight against carbon emissions to combat climate change.Among the measures KPA has taken to decarbonise Mombasa port city include planting more mangrove trees known to be capturing carbon dioxide from the air.

Haji Masemo, KPA’s Public Relations Manager, said the authority has planted over 2,000 mangrove trees after realising they clean the air faster than any plant.

Masemo said the authority has planted the trees at Port Reitz to compensate for the ones destroyed during the construction of the second container terminal.

KPA technical official Ms Florence Bett said to reduce the emission of carbon, the authority plans to install solar panels to produce electricity to be supplied to the ships docking at the port.

She said ships emit enormous amounts of carbon dioxide while discharging cargo at the port. Bet indicated that KPA would install solar panels to power ships that dock at the port.

“KPA is also gradually installing solar along the berths so that when the ships docks, they are asked to switch off the engines and use the solar power to reduce the emission of carbon by the ship,” said Bet.

In Lamu, county government has so far processed 15 title deeds out of the 44 wetland areas targeted for conservation.

County Executive Committee (CEC) for Agriculture, James Gichu, said they have embarked on a county-wide reafforestation programme aimed at protecting Lamu’s wetland areas, including the Mangrove ecosystem.

“Poor farming methods coupled with encroachment of riparian land has led to the degradation of Lamu’s wetland areas which has further led to the increase in human-wildlife conflicts,” Gichu noted.

Wetlands International country director, Julie Mulonga, said her organisation is working closely with the county government to ensure that wetlands are protected, noting that Lamu holds 61 per cent of the country’s Mangrove forest cover, which is home to many fish and bird species.

“We are working with Nema, KFS and the county government to restore Lamu’s water towers and aquifers such as Lake Kenyatta which were in danger of drying up due to encroachment.

In Kwale, the Mwazaro Beach Management Unit (BMU) in Lunga Lunga subcounty, Kwale, teamed up with several state and non-state actors to plant more than 3,200 mangrove seedlings.

Plan International, Pwani University, KFS, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri) and Msambweni Clean Green Community Based Organisation partnered with Mwazaro BMU to plant the mangrove seedlings.

In a recent interview, Plan International project coordinator Andrew Nyamu lauded the Mwazaro community for leading in planting 15,000 mangrove seedlings in the last one year.

The Coast region has 60,000 acres of mangroves, 42,000 acres of which are found in Lamu county.

The Gazi and Makongeni mangrove project intends to sell 3,000 tonnes of carbon credits.

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