A mangrove conservation project has improved life and possibly the air in this Kenyan village

The village of Gazi Bay on Kenya’s coast, just 55 kilometers south of bustling Mombasa and off the country’s beaten tourist path, has emerged in recent years as a model for the restoration and care of carbon-absorbing mangrove trees.

The Mikoko Pamoja project has preserved 100 hectares of mangroves.(AP: Brian Inganga)

Nestled among sandy beaches, still waters and coconut palms, the Mikoko-Pamoja project — Swahili for “mangroves together” — has quietly trudged along for almost a decade, preserving more than 100 hectares of mangroves while planting new seedlings.

About 4,000 new mangroves are planted every year, making the forests of Gazi Bay steadily swell.

Six people stand in a muddy area in front of mangrove trees.
The project has been running for almost 10 years.(AP: Brian Inganga)

These marine ecosystems sequester more carbon than typical terrestrial forests, making them attractive financing prospects for far-flung governments and companies looking to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

A man and a woman load fish into a bag in front of mangrove trees.
Wages and resources have improved for local people.(AP: Brian Inganga)

While carbon offsets have received mixed reactions from environmentalists, the consistent funding source has improved the lives of those involved in the project and the surrounding coastal villages.

Wages in the community have increased and resources for local people have improved.

A lake with mangrove trees in the background and a full moon above.
About 4,000 new mangroves are planted every year.(AP: Brian Inganga)
Three girls dressed in white walk past mangroves.
Schools have benefited from the project. (AP: Brian Inganga)

With conscious conservation, there are natural advantages.

Fishermen casting nets in nearby shallows have seen an abundance of species return to the mangrove-covered shores, which are now a breeding ground for fish that thrive in the expanded habitat.

A man holds a net in shallow water in front of two boats.
Local residents report better air quality. (AP: Brian Inganga)

And project leaders are embracing the benefits of clean air for people living in or near the forests.

The award-winning project, now in its 10th year, has inspired other nations to do the same.

Four people stand near boats in a body of water in front of a mangrove.
The mangroves have become a popular breeding ground for fish. (AP: Brian Inganga)

Several mangrove forests across Africa have been destroyed by coastal development, deforestation or fish farming, making coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels.

Mangrove trees and their reflection over a body of water.
The award-winning project has inspired other countries.(AP: Brian Inganga)

For those living under Mikoko Pamoja’s mangrove canopy, many of these concerns have at least partially subsided.

AP

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