By Ian Mutiso

Mombasa has about 3,000 ha of Peri-urban mangrove forests found within Tudor and Mwache creek. However, in the past 20 years mangrove forest cover has declined drastically to the current estimated cover of about 1,232 ha.

Conservationists are alarmed by the loss of mangrove forest cover owing to illegal cutting for firewood and building materials, raw sewerage disposal and oil spillage. This has prompted the emergence of reclamation programs done in partnership with the local communities to save mangroves.

James Kairo, chief scientist at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute says mangroves which thrive in salt water are regarded as the most valuable resource along the shoreline… “but illegal cutting of mangroves makes it a dwindling resource thus affecting livelihoods,” said Kairo.

Mangroves provide breeding places for fish and other marine wildlife, protect coastlines from unpredictability of weather, and coastal erosion and a source of income to the local communities. Concerned communities within Mombasa, in partnership with the national government, formed the Mombasa Kilindini Community Forest Association to champion sustainable use of mangrove forests, while ensuring related biodiversity is protected to improve its integrity.

Lucas Fondo, the chairperson at the Association says that they have recruited community members living around the Tudor, Port Reitz and Mtwapa (Mombasa side) creeks mangrove forests. They have involved them in active live hood activities like seedling planting.

“We are developing eco-tourism sites within mangrove forests to create recreational places for tourists to visit and act as source of income for the communities,” said Mr Fondo.

The organization has witnessed big milestones since it was formed in 2012 among them: Reduction of illegal mangrove harvesting and charcoal burning within mangrove areas specifically in Mwache creek Recognition of MOKICFA by government through the Kenya Forrest Services (KFS), and engagement of MOKICFA in the management of the Mombasa Kilidini mangrove forest as part of the Dongo Kudu road construction rehabilitation project, through development of the National Mangrove Management Plan.