Title :Restoration and Conservation of Mangrove Forests in Kilifi County
Audience :Mangrove Forest Adjacent Communities and Extension Agents
Kilifi County is located in coastal Kenya and lies at altitudinal range of 0 – 450 m above sea level, latitude 2o 20’ and 4o 0’ South, and longitude 39o 05’ and 40o 14’ East. The average annual rainfall ranges from 300 mm in the hinterland to 1,300 mm at the coastal belt. Annual temperatures range from 21℃ to 30℃ in the coastal belt and between 30℃ and 34℃ in the hinterland. The coastal belt conditions favour mangrove ecosystem.
Mangroves are salt tolerant trees and shrubs that grow in intertidal regions of the tropical and sub-tropical coastlines. Mangroves are important as they: reduce negative impact of cyclonic storms; control soil erosion; enhance fishery productivity by acting as a nursery ground for fish, prawns and crabs; are rich in biodiversity; act as habitats for aquatic life; trap organic sediment; and store carbon and are therefore referred to as ‘blue carbon’ sinks. On average, carbon stock of one hectare of mangroves, including soil carbon, is approximately 1,000 tonnes, which is more than twice the carbon stock of upland forests and five times that of savannah, implying that mangroves are among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. The mangrove ecosystem also provides important goods and services to communities living adjacent to mangrove forests. However, provision of these ecosystem goods and services is threatened by high rate of mangrove loss that is estimated to be 2 to 5 times higher than the average rate loss of other forest types.
The main causes of mangrove ecosystem degradation are mainly associated with human activities which include; over exploitation for wood products such as timber and fuelwood, pollution, coastal development, human settlement, and conversion to aquaculture. In addition, effects of climate change such as rise in sea level, and sedimentation have adversely affected mangrove ecosystems. To protect mangrove ecosystems from further degradation, there is need to restore and conserve mangrove forests. Mangrove forest restoration involves recovery of degraded mangrove ecosystem, while conservation involves protecting or preserving the mangrove from destruction. The main mangrove species found in Kenya are Rhizophora mucronata and Ceriops tagal which constitute 70% of mangrove forest formation.
Ihaleni Kakuluni Mangrove Conservation Group located in Mavueni Takaungu location, Kilifi County is one of the groups involved in restoring and conserving mangrove vegetation. The Group was formed in 2011 and is also engaged in other socio-economic activities that include; mariculture, beekeeping and ecotourism.
• To conserve and restore degraded mangrove vegetation
• To improve livelihood through income from the restored mangrove forest
Ihaleni Kakuluni Mangrove Conservation Group acquired skills on mangrove restoration from various institutions including Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS). Restoration of mangrove forests is done through planting appropriate mangrove species and protection. Planting at degraded sites is undertaken through; use of seedlings raised in the nursery, direct planting of propagules (seedlings), or use of wildlings. During planting, use of appropriate protective gear is recommended.
|Degraded Mangrove ecosystem
||Restored mangrove forest through planting |
To establish a mangrove nursery, propagules of appropriate species are collected directly from the mangrove trees, or gathered from the forest floor or on water immediately after falling from the mother tree. The collected propagules are sorted, selected and planted directly in potted tubes by inserting one third of the propagule into the potting tube. The availability and type of planting material vary depending on the species of mangrove. Rhizophora mucronata propagules are long, and turn pale to red brown when mature, Avicennia marina propagules are rounded, yellowish in colour upon maturity, while Sonneratia produces small seeds.
Potting soil is collected from muddy to soft clay areas within the mangrove ecosystem and sometimes mixed with forest soil. The propagules are watered with sea water during dry periods. Propagules complete sprouting within three weeks and can attain a height of 100 to 125 cm in 10 months.
For direct planting, mature propagules, which are light green in colour and about 50 cm long, and have not yet rooted, can be planted directly in the degraded sites by inserting one-third of their length into the mud. Planting involves making shallow holes of about 10 cm deep, in muddy to soft clay sites using sharped sticks. Holes should be spaced 0.5 m apart. Wildlings can also be planted directly in the degraded sites.
Mature Rhizophora mucronata
During planting, the Ihaleni Kakuluni Mangrove Conservation Group involves the whole community in the exercise. The Group and the adjacent community members guard the mangrove forest and report any unauthorized activity to law enforcement agencies. The Group has successfully restored 20 hectares of mangrove forest.
• Sustainable provision of wood for timber, construction materials and woodfuel from mangroves
• Enhanced mangrove ecosystem stability
• Rehabilitated mangrove vegetation has restored habitat and breeding sites for marine life
• Improved livelihood and income from sale of honey from beekeeping
• Protection of coastal area as mangroves filter and trap sediment from river run-off
• Restoration of mangrove ecosystem has improved the aesthetic value of the degraded areas, creating recreation activities for eco-tourism
• Community involvement in mangrove forest restoration ensures that the practice is owned by the community members
• Income derived from restored mangrove forest is a motivation for continued forest restoration and conservation
• Enhanced awareness and training enables more community members to adopt the practice
A bee hive in a mangrove forest
• Due to the enhanced biodiversity of the forest, the community has introduced beekeeping and ecotourism as additional livelihood activities
• Inadequate policies to protect mangrove vegetation
• Inadequate protective gears for use during planting exercise
• Resistance from mangrove forest encroachers
• Beehives in mangroves forests act as source of security as bees deter illegal logging.
Mangrove restoration and conservation is an effective practice as it preserves biodiversity and improves livelihoods of mangrove forests adjacent communities through provision of various goods and services.