It’s good to update you again on a busy couple of months here in Kwale, Kenya and the work we do which is supported through Size of Wales.
I was recently at the launch of some brilliant work, supported by WWF, which is going to benefit local people and wildlife, as well as helping the world tackle climate change.
We have already helped the Gogoni-Gazi community (people living around the Gogoni and Gazi Bay forests) establish a Community Forest Association.
Now we have taken that work a stage further, by supporting the community to enter into a legal agreement with Kenya Forest Service (KFS, a government agency) to jointly manage their surrounding endangered forests.
The Gazi Bay forests are mangroves – coastal forests which provide a vital habitat for many birds, reptiles and mammals.
Like other forests, mangroves also store carbon and therefore protecting them is an important part of tackling climate change.
What’s really exciting about the signing of the legal agreement between the community and Kenya Forest Service is that it has enabled the launch of the Mikoko Pamoja (Mangroves Together) project.
This is a pioneering initiative that will see the community benefiting from the sale of carbon credits to companies and individuals looking to improve their green credentials.
A carbon credit is created when a certain amount of carbon is prevented from entering the atmosphere, in this case by protecting mangrove trees and the carbon stores that they represent. Each carbon credit has a monetary value and, where projects like Mikoko Pamoja exist, these credits can be bought to offset carbon use elsewhere.
We expect the project will bring in over 12,000 US dollars per year to the local community, which will pay project costs and help local development. The money will also pay for the planting of at least 3000 trees, the improvement of damaged areas of mangrove and help local people benefit from ecotourism.
And of course, it’ll help fix carbon, which will help tackle climate change.
But we’re not stopping there!
We’re now working with our partners to use the same model in the Dzombo forest, which is a land-based rather than mangrove forest. The Dzombo community also signed a management agreement at the recent launch event and, with a strong Community Forest Association already in place, we’re in a great position to try and establish carbon trading in this area.
There was a lively ceremony to launch the project, when we welcomed the Director of the Kenya Forest Service and the Kwale County Governor. As you can see from the pictures, I got stuck in by planting a tree at the ceremony.
Local honey was also on display – honey production is one way in which people in this region can earn money and reduce pressure on forests. Moreover, the honey in Kwale often comes from bees that are also being used to reduce human-elephant wildlife conflict – more of this in another blog post.
Other organisations which took part in this process included the government agencies KFS and KMFRI, Edinburgh Napier University, Earthwatch Institute and The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).