A mangrove conservation project has improved lives and potentially the air in this Kenyan village

The village of Gazi Bay on the coast of Kenya, just 55 kilometers south of bustling Mombasa and tucked away from the country’s well-trodden tourist circuit, has gained popularity in recent years as a model for restoring and maintaining carbon-draining mangrove trees.

A woman standing in front of mangrove trees and taking a selfie.
The Mikoko Pamoja project has preserved 100 hectares of mangroves.AP: Brian Inganga

Nestled among sandy beaches, still waters and coconut groves, the Mikoko Pamoja Project – Swahili for “mangroves together” – has been plodding along quietly for nearly a decade, preserving more than 100 acres of mangroves while planting new seedlings.

About 4,000 new mangroves are planted each year, causing the forests of Gazi Bay to steadily swell.

Six people stand in a muddy area in front of mangrove trees.
The project has been running for almost 10 years.AP: Brian Inganga

These marine ecosystems trap more carbon dioxide than typical terrestrial forests, making them attractive financing prospects for distant governments and corporations looking to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

A man and a woman load fish into a bag for mangrove trees.
Wages and resources have improved for the local population.AP: Brian Inganga

While carbon offsets are receiving a mixed response from environmentalists, the source of consistent funding has improved the lives of those involved in the project and in surrounding coastal villages.

Wages in the community have increased and resources for the local population have improved.

A lake with mangrove trees in the background and a full moon over it.
About 4,000 new mangroves are planted every year.AP: Brian Inganga
Three girls dressed in white walk past mangrove trees.
Schools have benefited from the project. AP: Brian Inganga

With conscious conservation comes natural benefits.

Fishermen casting nets in nearby shallow waters have seen an abundance of species return to the mangrove-laden shores, which are now a breeding ground for fish thriving in the extensive habitat.

A man with a net in a shallow water in front of two boats.
Local residents report improved air quality. AP: Brian Inganga

And project leaders applaud the benefits of cleaner air for people living in or near the forests.

Now entering its 10th year, the award-winning project has inspired other countries to follow suit.

Four people standing near boats in a body of water in front of a mangrove.
The mangroves have become a popular breeding ground for fish. AP: Brian Inganga

Several mangrove forests across Africa have been destroyed as a result of coastal development, logging or fish farming, making coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels.

Mangrove trees and their reflection on a body of water.
The award-winning project has inspired other countries.AP: Brian Inganga

For those living under Mikoko Pamoja’s mangrove umbrella, many of those concerns have disappeared, at least in part.

AP

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