Mikoko Pamoja is a pioneering mangrove conservation and village development project in Gazi Bay, on the south coast of Kenya. Read more about the project the project here: https://www.clevel.co.uk/ca...
Mikoko Pamoja means “Mangroves Together” - and that is exactly what is happening. Instead of cutting down Mangroves, the villagers are protecting these “Blue Forests”.
Mikoko Pamoja is a model for mangrove villages around the world. It’s the first community project to use the sale of bio carbon credits from the mangrove ecosystem to bring conservation and development together.
The sale of bio carbon credits not only funds the conservation efforts but also creates jobs and pays for access to clean water and education.
Mangroves are an essential part of vital marine ecosystems. They provide a breeding ground for fish and a buffer between land and sea. They protect seagrass meadows and coral reefs from silting; they protect crops and drinking water from salt water contamination; and they are a natural defence against sea storms and coastal erosion.
But mangroves are in rapid decline globally. Local communities and people from further afield, enter the communal forests to cut mangrove poles for timber. In Kenya, this has resulted in the destruction of 20% of mangroves over the last 30 years.
This loss has resulted in the decline of fish stocks. Since villagers get almost all their protein from fish, this hits hard at the most basic level.
The delicate marine ecosystems are also impacted and the seagrass meadows and coral suffer from silting and pollution from the land. Flooding from sea storms has also increased.
Through Mikoko Pamoja, the “Blue Forests” are now being protected and seen for their true value.
The project started in 2013 – a joint initiative between the Gazi Bay villagers, volunteers from global NGOs and research institutions in Kenya and the UK.
It’s funded by forward-looking businesses, NGOs, universities and individuals, all looking to manage their carbon footprints while supporting people and nature.
Certification for bio carbon benefits under the Plan Vivo Standard facilitates these sales. And independent researchers have now concluded that Mikoko Pamoja is a ‘unique, care-based project’.
The project employs forest guards, who are based in a watchtower, to deter
cutting of the mangroves.
Villagers go out to the 117 hectares of protected mangrove forest four times each year. This is to monitor growth and biodiversity in the forest. Trees are measured and key indicators of ecosystem health are checked, like crab numbers.
Mikoko Pamoja is also a reforestation project, with 10 hectares of degraded mangrove being replanted with seedlings from the community nursery.
The carbon benefits from protecting and planting mangroves are substantial. Not only do mangroves retain carbon in their own biomass, they also lock it into the marine muds. More than 1500 tonnes of carbon per hectare is stored beneath the forests. That’s more than eight times that of forests on land.
117 hectares of mangroves are now protected. There is no cutting and the forest is recovering, ensuring the health of the whole ecosystem.
Local people now have long term security of protein from viable fisheries, crops are protected and the coast is naturally defended against sea storms.
The community decides how they want to spend the project income. Making sure each child has a school book has been an early priority… and the schools are now sending students on to high schools for the first time.
Pumps funded by Mikoko Pamoja also provide clean drinking water for several hundred children in the two primary schools in Gazi and Makongeni. 4,500 people in the wider community also benefit from clean drinking water. People no longer carry water from a far.
Jobs have been created for two forest guards and one coordinator.
The vision for Mikoko Pamoja is to ensure enough support is found to keep the project developing, and to roll out the project as a flagship for other “Blue Forest villages” in Kenya and elsewhere.
Part of future development will be to include seagrass meadows in the ecosystems carbon credits. Seagrasses, like mangroves, are a key part of the whole system and are great at capturing and storing carbon. The muds they grow in are anaerobic and are black with organic carbon rich deposits.
The first replication of the project is already underway at Vanga Blue Forest, close to Tanzania. The Vanga community and its chief are very aware of the benefits of conserving the mangroves, and have asked for help from the project team.
Local people, volunteers, NGOs, research institutions and individuals come together around this amazing project - funding conservation and development through action on carbon footprints…