Updated 24/08/20

French solidarity fund for innovative projects (FSPI)

January 2019 - December 2020

Kenya

“Save the mangroves of Kenya”. IRD and its partners are launching a message and an ambitious project for the restoration and preservation of Kenyan coastal mangrove forests, fragile environments with high socio-economic potential.

Are you aware of all the services provided by the mangrove ecosystem? Nursery and fish supplies, coastal protection against floods, cyclones or erosion, carbon storage, ecotourism, etc. Mangrove forests are not only home to a unique and rich biodiversity; they also have a high potential for socio-economic development for the populations of coastal regions.

Mangrove in Lamu, Kenya.

© IRD - Cécile Bégard

Today, mangrove forests are threatened by rising sea levels, climate change, the development of coastal industry and agriculture. It is estimated between 1985 and 2009, Kenyan mangrove lost more than 20% of their surface, mainly because of human activity. "Mangrove forests are key elements of adaptation and mitigation of climate change" underlines H.E. Mme Aline Kuster-Ménager, French ambassador in Kenya.

The Kenya Forest Service (KFS), CIRAD and IRD are launching a project to contain this trend and to respond to the Kenyan government's challenge of managing the mangrove.

The training participants in the field.

© French Embassy in Kenya - Gilbert Nyangor

Capacity building

The focus is on strengthening the capacity of the Kenyan government to address this issue, in particular the KFS agents. "We are building on an online collaborative platform, where all project stakeholders will be able to share their information on coastal mangrove and its condition. The platform will also include photos to learn more about mangroves, a database of flora and mangrove inventory data. It will be developed little by little", says David Williamson, IRD representative in East Africa.

"The aim is to strengthen the research, education and training capacities on this subject", says Juliana Prosperi, a botanist at Cirad. "Through regular workshops and the creation of a training program, we wish to improve the knowledge on these unique ecosystems. We also want to involve coastal populations in our research by developing an app that would allow them to identify forest species and send their information". Capacity building will enable the project to be sustainable and involve all stakeholders.

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© Richard Bremond

The Mikoko project team meeting inhabitants of Lamu.

Mangrove forests, actors of the "blue economy"

In addition to the many ecological services provided by mangrove forests, they also have a high economic value. In particular, they provide fish, crustaceans and shellfish for artisanal and commercial fishermen in the region. In Kenya, up to 90% of all the fish landed at local markets comes from mangrove creeks, estuaries and nearby shallow waters. This number is decreasing due to the retreat of mangrove forests.

The diversity of plants and animals is also an important asset for ecotourism. Bird watching and walking in mangroves help to create economic activity for multiple stakeholders.

Thus, this multi-dimensional project will make it possible to know better the mangrove, to manage it better and to preserve its potential for the next generations.

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© IRD - Cécile Bégard

Crab Shack ecorestaurant, communautary action developed in the Watamu area, Kenya.