Mangroves, tropical forests at the interface between land and sea, are one of the most biologically diverse marine habitats and amongst the most efficient natural carbon sinks. Yet up to half of all mangroves have been lost in the last 50 years...
Globally, it is estimated that 30-50% of mangroves have been destroyed since the 1960s and losses continue at 2% per year. This destruction removes valuable wildlife habitat and threatens the many useful services mangroves provide. These include protecting shorelines and coastal communities against storms, floods and erosion, supporting fisheries and sequestering and storing huge quantities of carbon. The monetary value of these ecosystem services is estimated at more than US $1.6 billion each year.
In 2003, Earthwatch began working with Professor Mark Huxham of Edinburgh Napier University and his team to research techniques to restore mangroves and associated marine ecosystems and to evaluate the carbon stocks they hold. Earthwatch volunteers join the project each year to establish the research plots, learn about the science, collect data, and engage with the local community.
The Mikoko Pamoja initiative (‘Mangroves Together’ in Kiswahili) was launched in 2009 to apply this research and use payments for ecosystem services (specifically, payments for carbon credits) to safeguard conservation gains and improve the quality of life of the local community.