AVIVA PARTNER EARTHWATCH TO SUPPORT MANGROVE RESEARCH
Aviva and Earthwatch have been working together since 1997, based on our shared belief in protecting the environment for future generations. In particular, a shared priority is working to mitigate the impacts of global climate change and find solutions that will help communities to adapt in a changing world.
Aviva is currently supporting Earthwatch scientist Professor Mark Huxham, who leads our mangrove research and community project in Gazi Bay on the southern coast of Kenya. Although mangroves account for less than half of one per cent of all forests, they provide many valuable services to humankind: for example, as a nursery habitat for numerous fish species and a natural barrier protecting coastal communities. But mangroves are being destroyed and degraded at an alarming rate, and these impacts will be exacerbated by climate change.
Mangroves are highly effective carbon sinks, capturing up to six times more carbon per hectare than undisturbed rainforests. By quantifying and costing out the carbon sequestration potential of mangroves, this research is supporting the establishment of a community-run plantation that will provide funding to the inhabitants of Gazi Bay from the sale of carbon credits–a tangible incentive for mangrove conservation. Professor Huxham and his team are currently working with Plan Vivo on the final stages of accreditation, and it is hoped that the first credits will go on sale later this year, making this one of the first projects worldwide to sell credits derived from mangroves.
Through this project, Aviva has also helped to increase scientific capacity within Kenya by investing in the training of early-career scientists. With support from Aviva and under the supervision of Professor Huxham, a young Kenyan scientist, Joseph Lang’at, carried out Ph.D. research on this project and was awarded his doctorate in 2012.
As we look to the future, this work will provide a model for other projects along the coast, influencing mangrove conservation and management throughout Kenya and beyond.