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KMA says mangroves combat carbon emission from ships

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

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has started mangrove trees planting campaign to mitigate the effects of carbon emission from ocean-going vessels (OGV).

The agency said it plans to plant an extra 100,000 mangroves in Mtongani-Kidudu, Kilifi county. The plan involves planting of 25,000 mangrove trees on 25 acres along the seashore.

Speaking after launching a seven-day mangrove planting project in Kilifi, KMA Ag Director General John Omingo said the agency has planted 75,000 mangrove seedlings on 10 hectares of land.

''Mangroves, like other coastal wetlands, are powerful carbon sinks; they suck up carbon dioxide from the air to store in their roots and branches, as well as the sediment that collects around them,” said Omingo.

He explained that unlike “green carbon” rain forests that store carbon in biomass and release it when it dies, mangrove trees store most of it for years. “If undisturbed, carbon stays on the mangrove three for millennia,” he said.

Omingo said the agency was also sensitizing residents on harmful fishing practices and pollution that damages the forests.

“One thing we have learned is that if you want to do conservation we must involve local communities,” he said, noting that there are 60,000 acres of mangrove trees in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and Tana River counties.

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

However, the mangrove forest cover is declining due to logging, poor fishing practices, and increasing blue carbon emissions. It is estimated that 87 per cent of households on the Coast use mangrove wood as fuel wood and building material.

''We check all the ships coming in to ensure they have these gadgets and their crew is properly trained. We also have an Oil Spill Response Contingency Plan in case of an oil spill from ships,” said the KMA boss.

“In Africa, we are running a centre for international environmental law that tests the fuel from ships released into the atmosphere because it must have a very low level of sulfur,” he added.

The International Maritime Organization noted that the maritime transport sector contributes around 940 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and is responsible for about 2.89 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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