Over-harvesting of trees and degradation of tropical forest land has been associated with 20% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – the principal cause of observed climate change impacts in the world, including erratic rainfalls, desertification, floods, and disease outbreaks among others.
A set of international policies known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is concerned with both reducing emissions and enhancing carbon stocks through actions that address deforestation, forest degradation, forest conservation and sustainable forest management. Under the REDD+ mechanism, countries that are willing and able to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation will be compensated for doing so.
The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) is implementing an innovative, small-scale carbon project aimed at enhancing mangrove forest productivity and integrity, by carrying out activities that benefit local communities and that could be eligible for attracting carbon investment. Dubbed Mikoko Pamoja, the project will initially protect 107 ha of mangrove forest at Gazi bay and replant 0.4 ha degraded forest per annum, over a project time-scale of 20 years. Technical Specifications of the project have been accredited by Plan Vivo Carbon to sell 3000t CO2 equivalent/year into the voluntary carbon market, thus generating approximately US$12,000 each year. The profits from selling carbon credits through Mikoko Pamoja are channeled directly to the community in order to finance further mangrove restoration effort, as well as to support community development projects.
But why mangroves for carbon?
Although mangrove forests occupy only 0.1% of the earth’s continental surface area, the forests account for 11% of the total input of terrestrial carbon into the ocean. KMFRI scientists working with other partners have recently shown that mangrove forests sequester six times more carbon than any other productive terrestrial forest. Most of this carbon is captured and stored into sediments.
However, loss and transformation of mangrove areas in Kenya is affecting local livelihoods through shortage of firewood and building poles, reductions in fisheries, and increased erosion. Market based mechanisms such as REDD+ represent an important new mechanism to conserve and enhance mangrove forests and promote the livelihood of the local communities who depend on them.
Mikoko Pamoja is a Project of the Natural Environment Resource Council, UK. Other partners in include Kenya Forest Service, Earthwatch Institute, Aviva PLC and Universities of Napier, Bangor and Edinburgh in UK. Mikoko Pamoja is an excellent example of linking research with community development; as well as Public-Private Partnership.
We hope to upscale this project to other parts of the Kenya and WIO.
by Mikoko Pamoja Former Project Coordinator Noel N Mbaru