The Kenyan government and bilateral partners have zeroed in on faster restoration of mangrove forests to promote climate resilience in the coast region, senior officials have said.
Mohamed Elmi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said enhanced conservation of mangrove forests has been prioritized to buffer coastal communities from climatic shocks.
According to Elmi, restoration of mangrove forests, whose degradation is linked to human encroachment and ocean acidification, has gone overdrive to secure livelihoods of communities living along the vast Kenyan coastline.
“Restoring the mangrove forests will benefit local communities through food security and increased incomes from fishing besides spurring growth of the blue economy,” Elmi said at an event to mark International Day for Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, held in Mombasa County on Monday.
Statistics from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry indicate that the Kenyan coastline is home to over 10,000 hectares of mangrove ecosystem but 40 percent has undergone degradation.
Rapid growth of coastal cities, illegal harvesting and climate change-linked sea water rise and acidification have escalated depletion of mangrove forests in the Kenyan coast, threatening millions of livelihoods.
The government plans to regenerate the vital ecosystem over the next three years through planting over 300,000 trees and enforcement of laws to prevent encroachment, Elmi said.
The health of mangrove forests, which are breeding grounds for marine life, source of timber and buffer against floods, is critical to climate resilience of coastal fisherfolk and subsistence farmers, he said.
Restoring degraded mangrove forests will also promote ecotourism, in addition to strengthening their role as carbon sinks and protection of communities against violent storms, Elmi said.
Julius Kamau, chief conservator of forests, said the government has launched a community-based initiative to promote conservation of mangrove forests in the coast region in line with the quest for carbon neutrality.
He said 16 million mangrove trees have been planted in the last three years and that international best practices have been adopted to develop a comprehensive mangrove forests management and restoration plan.
The strategy, according to Kamau, emphasizes on protection and sustainable utilization of mangroves to ensure coastal communities have steady source of food, fuel and fiber, while strengthening their resilience to the climate crisis. Enditem