ACES and our mangrove conservation projects, Mikoko Pamoja and Vanga Blue Forest, were born out of a drive among coastal Kenyan communities to protect and restore their mangrove forests, as well as our own 20+ years of studying these incredible ecosystems. We work alongside communities to support them in protecting their natural resources to fight climate change, support biodiversity and to build community development among vulnerable coastal populations.
Innovation is the way to make conservation a priority and a viable option in the modern age. The Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services is using carbon credits to support and fund traditional communities in ecosystem preservation. Villages in Kenya are are protecting and restoring mangrove ecosystems in exchange for carbon credits.
Local communities benefit by making money they can spend on books for school children, drinking water for the villages, and other community needs.
The ecosystem benefits with over 56,000 mangrove saplings being planted in Kenya so far; and the project is now protecting seagrass ecosystems as well!
Marine life benefits by having healthy mangrove and seagrass ecosystems available to nurture biodiversity.
This model is a win-win! Kudos to ACES for making this a reality and doing so much to help our ocean!
ACES support coastal communities in establishing and managing projects that protect and restore mangrove forests and seagrass meadows under community-based management. We coordinate two projects in Kenya, Mikoko Pamoja and Vanga Blue Forest, both certified to trade carbon credits under the Plan Vivo Standard. We also provide project planning and management support to community groups worldwide, including Tanzania and the Gambia, to build capacity in grassroots environmental initiatives and to guide community groups in developing and running successful environmental protection and restoration projects.
Between them, Mikoko Pamoja and Vanga Blue Forest protect and restore nearly 580 hectares of mangrove forest on the southern coast of Kenya, and Mikoko Pamoja is working with the local fishing community to protect the seagrass meadows that grow alongside the mangrove forest of Gazi Bay. By preventing the degradation of these ecosystems, the projects contribute to the absorption of over 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, as well as enhancing biodiversity, supporting local fisheries and protecting the habitats that form a natural sea wall that guards the coast and its people from storms and coastal erosion.
Our projects are independent Community-Based Organisations, managed and governed locally. The income generated by the projects funds not only the conservation work, but community development projects including education, sanitation and water. Local governance, which includes elected committees and community meetings to vote on how money is spent, ensures that the community development funds are allocated in a way that benefits the most people and targets the activities most needed by local people.
Mikoko Pamoja and Vanga Blue Forest have collectively protected and restored nearly 580 hectares of mangrove forests and in doing so, captured 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide since 2013 – that’s the equivalent of taking 6,086 cars off the road for a year! The benefits of mangrove forests don’t just stop at carbon, however – they are home to many species of fish, shellfish, birds, mammals and more, so by protecting them we enhance local biodiversity. This brings benefits to local people in the form of opportunities for tourism and enhances fish stocks that support the lives of thousands living on the Kenyan coast.
Our work goes beyond the conservation projects on the ground. The projects have been used as a model for mangrove conservation nationally and have influenced Kenya’s National Mangrove Management Plan and have inspired mangrove carbon projects elsewhere in the world, including in neighbouring Madagascar.
Local people and their livelihoods are at the heart of our work. Governing committees are elected from the local community; this builds capacity in local people and gives them an opportunity to engage in and internationally-renowned network of conservationists. Gender equality is enshrined into the projects and at least 30% of the committee members are women. The committees have overseen diverse community benefit activities funded by the projects including the construction of well and a network of water points throughout the villages, provision of sanitary products for schoolgirls so that they can continue to attend school whilst menstruating, and a covid relief programme that provided food and sanitary supplies to those most in need in the community.