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