Mangroves of Kenya

Mangrove forests in Kenya cover about 61,271 ha, representing approximately 3.0% of the natural forest cover or less than 1.0% of the national land area. About 59% of these forests occur in Lamu County. There are nine mangrove species in Kenya, with Rhizophora mucronata (or mkoko) and Ceriops tagal (mkandaa) being the most dominant. Mangrove ecosystems offer a range of benefits and opportunities for local and national economic development; hence they should be protected and conserved. This ecosystem, however, faces serious threats associated with their deforestation and degradation. Root causes of mangrove loss and transformations have been identified as; increased population, weak governance, inadequate awareness of the true value of mangrove ecosystems, high levels of poverty, lack of alternative livelihoods, and inadequate management prescriptions. Mangrove losses in turn have negative impacts on fisheries, shoreline stability, and resource sustainability. The upsurge in large scale developments e.g. LAPSSET, commercial mining, large scale irrigational agriculture, bioprospecting for hydrocarbons etc. may further aggravate mangrove loss.

The country has just developed a mangrove management plan whose objective is to sustain the supply of mangrove goods and services for local and national development. The Plan is prepared in compliance with the Forests Act (2005), which provides for preparation of management plans for all gazetted forests. It provides a road map towards sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems in Kenya for enhanced livelihoods. The Plan embraces collaborative and participatory approaches in natural resource governance that leads to ownership of the initiatives by the stakeholders. It takes cognizance of other existing policies relating to land and land use, agriculture, fisheries, energy, environment, mining, wildlife, and water. Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), as defined by Convention on Biological Diversity, was largely used to guide the development of this Plan. It recognizes the inter-connectivity among ecological, socio-cultural, economic, and institutional arrangements.

For effective management of mangroves in the country, the Plan has proposed six programmes including; forest conservation and utilization; fisheries development and management; community; tourism development; research and education; and human resource and operations. These programmes prescribe measures for rehabiliation, conservation, and sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems in Kenya. Implementations of this Plan will be led by Kenya Forest Service (KFS); but will also include other key actors such as Kenya Wildlife Service, State Department of Fisheries, Research Institutions, Academia and Community Forest Associations through a specially constituted National Mangrove Advisory Committee.