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In line with the implementation of the Priority Action in Mangrove Ecosystem Management Plan, WWF has embarked on carbon stocks assessment of mangroves in Lamu county; which hosts more than 60% of the total mangrove forests in Kenya.
The project seeks to scale up and accelerate conservation of blue carbon ecosystems for the benefits of climate change mitigation, community livelihoods, and biodiversity conservation. The 6-month project is in collaboration with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
Mangroves and associated near shore ecosystems, commonly referred to as ‘blue carbon ecosystems’, sequester huge stocks of carbon in both above and below ground components. Carbon sequestration by mangroves is estimated to be 3-5 times higher than any productive terrestrial ecosystem. Available data indicates that the total carbon stocks in Kenyan mangroves ranges from 600 – 1,500tC/ha. This carbon risks being released back into the atmosphere in the event that the mangroves are degraded or when the ecosystems are converted to other land uses.
The outcome of the research project is to generate a scientific publication that among others will inform strategies on mangrove reforestation programmes, empower communities adjacent to the mangrove to play an active role in their conservation in addition to developing and implementing harvesting plans that will guide mangrove exploitation. Most importantly, the research will be used to influence and ensure that mangroves are part of Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) as per the ratified Paris Agreement.
By Philip Odhiambo