An overarching problem facing the seascape is environmental degradation due to weak community organizational capacity in collective decision making and action in building and maintaining the resilience of these socio-ecological landscapes. The total area of mangroves in the Kenya is estimated at 61,271 ha, 8,354 ha or 14% of total mangrove coverage being in Kwale County in which Shimoni-Vanga lie.
The key threats to mangroves in the seascape include over-exploitation of wood and non-wood products, conversion of mangroves areas to other land uses such as rice farming, infrastructure development, pollution effects and sedimentation. Climate change is also to some extent affecting the remaining mangroves, particularly through sea-level rise, aridity and influx of freshwater causing floods and sedimentation. Among the key drivers leading to deterioration of mangroves in the seascape has been lack of cohesion amongst stakeholders in the use and management of the resource, this has further been exacerbated by a lack of recognition on customary rules and indigenous knowledge in governing subsistence use of mangrove resources by current management systems6.
The Need for Reforestation
Mangrove forests are coastal plant communities that are part of a larger coastal ecosystem that typically includes mud flats, seagrass meadows, tidal marshes, salt barrens and even coastal upland forests and freshwater wetlands (i.e. peatlands), freshwater streams and rivers. In more tropical climates coral reefs may also be part of this ecosystem. Reforastation is needed because mangroves are critical habitat for many species of fish and wildlife, serve as coastal fish and shellfish nursery habitat, and produce large quantities of leaf material that becomes the basis for a detritus food web (Hamilton and Snedaker 1984, Lewis et al. 1985). Mangroves also serve as coastal protection from hurricanes and typhoons, and riverine mangroves help remove pollutants before they enter adjacent coastal waters. In spite of these documented ecological functions, mangrove forests have been dredged and filled for decades to provide other coastal uses, like ports and housing
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