Monday, June 11, 2012

Marine Expert Sounds Alarm over Massive Destruction of Kenya's Mangrove Forests.

By Charles Ogallo

A recent report released by Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute-KEMFRI , the Kenya’s only  research institution dealing with marine and fisheries has revealed a massive deforestation of mangrove leaving the country with a loss of over 20 percent of her mangrove forest cover annually.

Most affected areas are Tudor Creek and Portreitz in Mombasa which lost 86 and 46 percent of their mangrove covers respectively, representing the highest mangrove loss rate not only in Kenya but globally.

In his speech during celebrations to mark this year’s World Biodiversity Day Dr. Jared Bosire the KEMFRI Deputy director admitted  that mangroves in these areas have been devastated and that causing serious environmental and socio-economic implications to marine ecosystem along the Kenyan Coast.

“Urgent concerted efforts are required to save these unique mangroves before they are completely devastated and thus save our biodiversity and livelihoods which depend on these mangroves” Dr. Bossire said.

The destructions are caused by people allegedly hiding in the forest to make illegal brews. Much of the trees are claimed to have been burnt and used as firewood by alcohol brewers who are hiding from police and other law enforcers. 

According to researchers, mangroves forests form part of nutrient-rich environments which promote a variety of food chains, hence function as nursery and feeding grounds for fish and invertebrates. Many of these species are known to spend part of their life cycle in coral reefs, sea grasses and open waters.

Historically, Mangrove trees have been important in shoreline stabilization and provide resources for both rural and urban coastal populations. It’s estimated that 70 percent of the wood requirement adjacent to mangroves come from this forest.

Dr. Bossire termed mangrove forests as important element in Climate change mitigation as well as in carbon trade investment globally. 

“In the context of climate change, mangroves are great carbon sinks, sequestering about 5 times more carbon per unit area than any other forest ecosystem thus helping in mitigating climate change. The sequestered carbon can infact be packaged and sold into existing and emerging international carbon market and that the funds from carbon units used to support mangrove conservation” he added.

The destruction of mangroves has therefore left the area prone to effects of climate change such as beach erosion and uncurbed carbon emissions.

Environmentalists are however calling for quick intervention from the government to avert the denting situation. They have also proposed for civic education on environmental conservation among residents to avoid a repeat of such occurrences.

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