Understanding changes in mangrove forests and the implications to community livelihood and resource sustainability in Kenya


Mangrove forests support livelihoods of many coastal communities in developing countries. This is in addition to the role mangrove plays in shoreline protection, biodiversity conservation, and carbon sequestration. However, around the world, mangroves are being lost at fast rates due to a combination of both human and natural causes. Losses of mangroves have negative effects on fisheries, community livelihoods and shoreline stability. In the history of eastern African coast, mangrove poles formed a major regional trade commodity by the 9th century. Much of this trade was between Kenya and tree less Arab countries until 1982. At the beginning of the 20th century, Kenya was exporting an annual average of 483,000 mangrove poles from Lamu forests to countries in the Middle East. At present, extractions from mangroves in Kenya are mostly used locally. Considering multiple benefits mangrove provides to the society, it is important to understand drivers of their changes and the effects on coastal communities. The present study will combine desktop surveys, participatory appraisal tools, remote sensing techniques and modelling to understand past and present mangrove exploitation, drivers of change, and implications to users; including adaptation options. Focusing on the Lamu case study, we shall be able to identify past and present drivers of mangrove utilization in Kenya and the trend. The study will develop a framework providing mitigation and adaptation measures to assist coastal communities and governments agencies in current and future mangrove management planning.

Institution: Bournemouth University

Supervisor: Luciana Esteves

Area of study: Climate Science