THE world’s first community-led mangrove conservation and restoration project, “Mikoko Pamoja”, has marked its 10-year anniversary.

The project was set up in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.

Mikoko Pamoja, which translates as “mangroves together”, is financially supported through carbon credits and is led by democratically elected committee members.

The project manages more than 100 hectares of mangrove forests in Gazi Bay, on the south coast of Kenya.

These forests support the livelihoods of locals by protecting the shoreline, supplying fuel, wood, fish and providing a habitat for wildlife.

Mangrove trees are important as they store five times more carbon per hectare than other forests.

This makes them natural carbon sinks, capturing and storing carbon which can be sold onto the global markets as carbon credits.

Over the past 10 years, the replanting and protection of mangrove trees through Mikoko Pamoja has avoided deforestation and saved more than 14,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Meanwhile, selling carbon credits has raised $119,000 for conservation and local development projects such as sanitation and education in the local villages, funding new wells, school rooms, sports facilities, and books.

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Project co-founder and Edinburgh Napier University professor Mark Huxham said: “Mikoko Pamoja shows how communities, scientists and governments can work together to make a difference to conservation and to improve lives.

“Conserving our natural carbon sinks, such as mangrove forests, is essential if we are to overcome the climate emergency.

“When controlled by local people, and meeting high scientific standards, money from the carbon market provides one way to help achieve this.”

The 10-year milestone comes at the conclusion of COP27 in Egypt. Just a year prior, representatives of the project were delegates during COP26 in Glasgow.

The project still received focus at this year’s conference as it was recently featured by ITV News as part of its COP27 coverage – in which the mangroves were labelled as the “unsung heroes” of the climate crisis.

Following the success of the project, the Vanga Blue Forest project has been launched – aiming at taking a similar model as Mikoko Pamoja but on a larger scale.