Mikoko Pamoja – community-led mangrove conservation protecting local fisheries resources
Thought to be the first community-led mangrove carbon project in the world, the Mikoko Pamoja project, translated as Mangrove Together from the Kiswahili language, aims to use carbon finance to support sustainable management practices. Mikoko Pamoja is verified under the Plan Vivo Standard, a certification framework for projects supporting the rural poor with sustainable natural resource management, using payments for ecosystem services – in this case carbon. The project includes requirements and processes to ensure that it benefits livelihoods and ecosystems, and provides ethical and fairly traded climate services. Mikoko Pamoja includes community-based mangrove reforestation, restoration and avoided deforestation activities in an area of 107 ha. The 3 000 tonnes CO 2 - equivalent of carbon credits generated through the project are to be sold onto the voluntary carbon market, generating approximately US$12,000 for the local community per annum. One-third of the annual carbon income generated through the project will be used for the rehabilitation and protection of mangroves. Through the Mikoko Pamoja experience, it is expected that coastal fisheries and communities throughout Kenya and potentially internationally will benefit from mangrove conservation, restoration and protection supported with revenue from carbon credits.
Located 65 kilometers south of Mombasa, Kenya, Gazi Bay is home to several villages surrounding a mangrove forest. Local communities depend on the mangroves for wood and non-wood forest products and services such as seafood, firewood, building poles and traditional medicine. However, mangroves have been extensively used and degraded since the 1970s, through commercial logging and conversion of mangrove land to other land uses particularly agriculture and coastal development. Loss of mangroves has led to shortages of firewood and building poles, a decline in fisheries and increased coastal erosion, hence the urgent need for the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable utilization of the mangroves at Gazi Bay. One of the major services provided by mangroves is their role as a breeding and nursery habitat for fish. The intertwining mangrove roots provide a home and shelter from predators for juvenile fish, crabs and other marine life, supporting biodiversity while also filtering water and protecting shorelines. The mangroves at Gazi Bay support both on- and offshore fisheries, providing food and income to local communities. Researchers have estimated that approximately 31 per cent of the fish landed in Gazi in 2010 was directly related to the mangrove habitat (UNEP 2011c). The total economic value of the rehabilitated mangroves in Gazi Bay has been estimated at US$3,000 per hectare per year (Kairo et al. 2009).