Campaign to conserve mangrove forests starts in Lamu

Members of a self-help group tend to mangrove seedlings on May 16, 2018, which they sell to various organisations at Sh10 per seedling. PHOTO | FILE

A total of 21 community representatives from Lamu have been offered special training on mangrove restoration as a campaign to plant at least 250,000 seedlings kicks off in the region.

The training was undertaken by Wetlands International, a global non-governmental organization, in collaboration with Mangrove Action Project.

The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has also been at the forefront of campaigning for mangrove planting in the county.
Wetlands International Project Officer Shawlet Cherono said the organisation values the need to conserve and restore mangroves.

She said mangroves are some of the high-value wetland ecosystems.

“In Lamu, they’re part and parcel of the communities’ everyday life –  for their livelihoods and … enhancing water quality, controlling erosion, maintaining stream flows, storing carbon and habitat for biodiversity. Therefore, there should be a balance between the protection and consumption of mangroves' ecosystems,” she said.

She expressed concern that mangrove areas were progressively shrinking.

“Therefore, it is imperative that we work together to restore mangroves. At Wetlands International, mangrove restoration activities are guided by the Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR) approach, where natural regeneration of mangroves is paramount as that has a higher success rate than mass planting,” she said.

Lamu County Forest Conservator Peter Mwangi emphasised the need to not only conserve but also restore degraded mangroves in the county.

Mr Mwangi thanked the organisations that have already shown interest in conserving mangroves, adding that a campaign is already underway to have many mangrove trees planted.

“We are experiencing rains in Lamu now after a prolonged drought since 2019 which has affected many people and their livelihoods. This season is the ideal time to plant mangroves. KFS, with key partners, is accelerating the attainment of 10 percent tree cover,” said Mr Mwangi.

Last week, about 2,000 mangrove seedlings were planted in Lamu as part of the new campaign.

Environmentalist Abdulrahman Aboud said they would sensitise the community on the importance of conserving the trees.

“We’ve been trained and we’re ready to spread the knowledge to the rest of the society members,” said Mr Aboud.

Lamu is home to about 145,000 people and harbours some 60 percent of Kenya’s mangroves.

Forest restoration, including mangroves, is aligned with Kenya’s commitment to restoring 5.1 million hectares of degraded forests as part of the Africa Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), which aims to recover 100 million hectares of forests by 2030.