KWALE (Xinhua) --
A Kenyan community at the coastal region is
making steady efforts in preserving mangrove forest critical to
mitigating the effects of climate change.
from Gazi and Makongeni in Kwale County have come together to
protect the trees within the Gazi Bay against harvesting for
charcoal, firewood, building houses and boats.
Under Mikoko Pamoja Community Organization, the members have
an agreement with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to monitor the
117 hectares of the mangrove forest at the Gazi Bay and
replenish it annually with 4,000 trees.
Salim Mwarima, the project coordinator says conservation of
the mangroves in the coastal has contributed to significant
improvements to the ecosystem.
"For the last five years we have seen a great reduction in
the cutting of trees," Mwarima said.
"For many years, people used to fell the mangroves
"They are used here for many purposes with the most common
being building houses, making boats and as firewood," he said.
But with the support of Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research
Institute (Kemfri) and KFS, the organization has managed to
educate the people on the importance of participating in
conserving the trees.
"For the last 25 years, Kemfri has been doing research on
mangrove in this area and have recognized the importance of
conserving the trees," he said.
From studies on significance of mangroves to the mitigation
of climate change, high loss of the trees results in an increase
of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
This is because, they are good absorbers of the carbon
dioxide which they store within the biomass and below the roots.
At least 90 percent of the population at Gazi Bay depend on
fishing for a livelihood with the mangroves providing breeding
grounds for the fish, observed Mwarima.
Ali Zuberi, vice chairman of the organization and a fisherman
says the rehabilitated mangroves have significantly reduced
erosion of soil into the Gazi Bay waters.
Zuberi who has been fishing for more than two decades also
notes an increase in fish capture. He says currently a fisherman
can harvest an average of 15 tonnes from previously three.
"When the season picks in October you will see stocks of fish
piling up (at the shores of the Gazi Bay) unlike before when you
could go for two days and return with nothing.
"You don’t need to go too far right now," he said.
The community has a permission from the KFS to sell carbon
credits with the revenue generated going into financing projects
benefitting the whole community.
Zuberi said the carbon offset project is paying off to the
community who has now become the custodians of protecting the
forest from illegal logging.
"In essence, people have become part and parcel of activities
championing for the protection of the mangroves against
"They are motivated to preserve and conserve the forest since
they can see the benefits of it," he said.
"We have stocked schools around here with books and the
parents don’t need to struggle anymore.
"They also have access to clean water.
"And this is all because of the money we are receiving from
selling the carbon credits," he said.
Supporting the carbon offset schemes meant to reduce carbon
emissions is among the commitments the 193 countries made during
the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change in
Paris, December last year.
Countries have a goal of minimizing temperature increase to
below 2 degrees Celsius, a target to be meant by putting forth
multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral activities to cut on
release of carbon gases into the atmosphere.
According to Nafasi Mfahaya, the KFS ecosystem conservation
officer for Kwale County, the community activities are in a
great way boosting conservation of the mangroves.
"Involvement of the community in the conservation of the
forests is critical to tackling deforestation," she noted.
Further, she said it is a remarkable project that addresses
concerns of climate change since the mangroves store high
volumes of carbon captured from the atmosphere.
However, despite their efforts of protecting the forest,
Zuberi says they are still concerned over unending felling of
"But we will continue to sensitize the people on the
importance of mangroves to the environment to prevent any
further extensive deterioration," added Zuberi while noting that
clearing of the trees would be a major threat to the survival to
the fishing communities at the south coast.
Illegal fishing threatens
southern Tanzania’s marine park
ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) --
Illegal fishing is threatening the survival of
the southern Tanzania’s Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park.
The 16-year-old park is a multi-purpose marine protected area
with globally significant marine biodiversity values and it
covers a total land and sea area of 650 square kilometers with
Benson Chiwinga is a park legal officer who described illegal
fishing as a serious challenge threatening the survivor of the
park, which is a home to important populations of whales,
dolphins, four species of turtle and numerous birds.
"It’s hectic to catch the illegal fishermen, as the area is
big. At some point, we’re trying to local communities, but the
challenge is still there," the official said, attributing the
problem with politics as there are politicians who are thwarting
the battle against illegal fishing.
According to him, there are politicians who use illegal
fishing gears as their political gains.
"Worse enough once they are elected at the local government
levels they encourage fishermen to use any fishing gears they
"This is a challenge to us as conservators," he said.
The official further said that there are people in the area
who prefer to easy fish catch by using fishing gears which are
harmful to the environment and entire ecosystem of the park,
located nearly 600 km from Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar
"We are discouraging people from using dynamite, and other
illegal fishing gears such as beach seines, monofilament nets,
gillnet with lattice sizes below the recommended size," he said,
"We have been carrying out regular patrols in the area, but
the challenge still remains there."
The official heaped blames on the judiciary for offering
small penalties to the perpetrators of the illegal fishermen.
"This is another challenge as when they are fined too little
money they pay and continue with the business as usual," he
He said the deadly challenge of dynamite fishing is the
destruction of coral reefs and fish breeding sites.
"Our park is under threat as fishermen tend to get into the
marine protected areas.
"This is different to the neighboring Kenya and Uganda where
a fisherman found guilty using unfriendly fishing gears is
banned from fishing for more than five years and heavy fine.
"But here is different as the fishermen in that situation are
fined an average of 9.14 U.S. dollars," said Chiwinga.
He also cited delays of cases in court as a challenge facing
conservation in the area, which borders Tanzania and Mozambique.
The conservator suggested the need for Tanzania to increase
the fines to at least 228 dollars and five-year imprisonment.
Villages leading for dynamite fishing activities in the
southern Tanzania’s marine park include Kilambo Litembe, Mkubilu,
Nalingu, Mnete, Msangamkuu, Tangazo, and Mgoji.
Janepha Simbua is the community development officer with the
park, who cited limited understanding on the importance of
conservation is one of the reason that fuel illegal fishing in
"We are trying to educate fishermen and schoolchildren on
"At one time we picked some of the fishermen to Zanzibar to
see how our colleagues there honor marine resources... but I am
sure it’s a matter of time," Simbua said, adding:
"There are some people who are aware of the importance of
conserving marine resources."
There are 12 villages in the area and it is hoped that
visitors to the marine park will help the local economy of this
area, one of the poorest and least developed in Tanzania.
MBREMP is recognized as being internationally important for
its biodiversity, with mangroves, sea grass beds and coral
Half natural world
heritage sites threatened by industrial activities: WWF
GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) --
Nearly half of all natural world heritage sites
are threatened by harmful industrial activities, such as oil and
gas exploration, mining and illegal logging, according to a new
report released Wednesday by the World Wide Fund for Nature
The report, titled "Protecting People through Nature: Natural
World Heritage Sites as Drivers of Sustainable Development",
detailed global failures to protect UNESCO World Heritage sites.
According to the study, 114 natural and mixed World Heritage
sites out of 229 either have oil, gas or mining concessions
overlapping them or are under threat from at least one other
harmful industrial activity.
For example, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the
second largest coral reef system in the world, is shown to be at
risk from unsustainable coastal construction, large-scale
mangrove clearance, harmful agricultural run-off and the
potential of dangerous oil exploration.
"World Heritage sites should receive the highest levels of
protection, yet we are often unable to safeguard even this
important fraction of the Earth’s surface," said Marco
Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
"We all agree that these are some of the most valuable and
unique places on the planet, now we need to work together to let
these sites provide for the well-being of people and nature,"
WWF is asking the private sector to make no go commitments to
refrain from activities that threaten to degrade World Heritage
Financing should also be withheld from projects involving
harmful industrial activities in World Heritage sites or the
companies conducting them.
In addition, national governments should ensure that no
harmful industrial activities are permitted in World Heritage
sites or in areas that could negatively affect them.
Panamanian ship SEAGULL D
pours fuel waste in Djiboutian waters
DJIBOUTI (Xinhua) --
A Panamanian ship has poured fuel waste in
Djiboutian waters near Tadjourah gulf, about 15 km from Djibouti
town, the country’s Coast Guard said in a statement.
The act, which was termed as "criminal" by Djiboutian
authorities, was discovered on Friday by the Djibouti Coast
The statement said it was the trail of waste fuels in the sea
that led them to the Panamanian ship, SEAGULL D.
The pollution affected "La Siesta" beach and its environs,
and spread all the way to Mangrove beach that is frequented by
Djiboutian and foreign tourists. The two beaches are currently
inaccessible for swimming.
The Djibouti public prosecutor has opened a judicial
investigation into the matter.
Djibouti launches project
to protect mangroves
DJIBOUTI (Xinhua) --
Djibouti’s environment ministry has launched a
climate change adaptation project in the northern region of Khor
Angar and the southern region of Damerjog to protect mangrove
swamps, official sources said on Monday.
The project which was funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF),
was prioritized in the National Adaptation Program of Action
(NAPA) report on climate change that was prepared by Djibouti’s
Its main goal is to reduce risks linked to climatic changes
for the production systems in the coastal zones through an
integrated and participatory approach with local populations.
Through the project, it will be easier to predict future
climatic changes, and also enable the local population to adopt
better production methods.
The project will tackle the deeper causes of vulnerabilities
in the country by targeting the ecosystems that need urgent
Experts from Djibouti’s environment ministry said the project
will promote conservation of ecosystems, increase resilience of
the population to climate change and fight against poverty
through utilization of skilled manpower.
The project will equally help to reduce environmental
vulnerability of the ecosystems such as mangrove swamps, and at
the same time, the losses caused by climatic catastrophes will
be alleviated while capacity of disaster response units will be
The two sites that were chosen were picked because of their
vulnerability and due to the presence of key ecosystems such as
mangroves. They were equally selected because they represent
Djibouti’s main bioclimatic zones.
"Today, a huge section of Djibouti’s natural ecosystems such
as mangroves have degraded due to human activities and
environmental constraints. If nothing is done, the ongoing
degradation will continue to pose a threat to the survival of
coastal communities," experts from the environment ministry
Currently, 40 hectares of mangrove swamps in Khor Angar have
been cleared, two tree nurseries each holding 5,000 seedlings
have been set up, and about 5 hectares of mangroves have been
Other rehabilitation activities have been completed in
Damerjog and Khor Angar, especially in the area of water
harvesting and promotion of renewable energies.
EAWLS in first-ever Kenya Mangrove Management Plan
A field guide to Kenyan mangroves