We have had fascinating talks about the management of mangrove ecosystems and learnt all about PES (payment for ecosystem services) this week. Here in Gazi Bay, South Kenya, the two villages (Gazi and Makongeni) conserve the local mangroves by replanting new seedlings and protecting the existing forest in a project called Mikoko Pamoja, loosely translated to English to mean ‘mangroves together’.
Mikoko Pamoja mangrove site naturally holds large amounts of carbon both in the above ground biomass of the trees and in the under ground soil. Conserving and adding trees to the forest improves the carbon held in the system, and this improvement in carbon can be sold! Donors who would like to offset their carbon footprint can give money to Mikoko Pamoja, therefore supporting the increase in carbon trapping (and reducing carbon in the atmosphere which we know as climate change). This might be paid through corporate social responsibility from big names like Shell and Coca Cola, or through individuals who feel they fly a lot, have a large carbon footprint or would like to offset carbon for their own personal interest.
This idea is catching on and there is now a carbon market! At the moment, a tonne of carbon is being sold for about USD 6, but with high demand the prices can rise and vice versa. The project raises about USD 12,000 annually, with this number increasing as the expansion of the mangrove increases with replantation. Money is put back into the mangrove project and over 30% goes to community benefits decided by a village committee. Last year there was a focus on education and providing reading materials for school students.
I have learnt a lot in my first week on this course, and I can’t wait to see what the second week holds. Beyond this course I will be working for Mikoko Pamoja, so keep checking my blog for updates of my work -including details of the muddy field work!