21 Dec 2018 - Just off the southern coast of Kenya, a forest grows from the ocean. This dense mangrove ecosystem - stretching across the mouth of Gazi Bay - serves myriad functions: a nursery for young fish, the source of firewood for two local villages, a tourism attraction with a snaking boardwalk, a spiritual site, and a natural dike to protect the coast.
It is also is a raw, respiring ingredient to fight climate change.
"Mangroves have a role to play when it comes to climate change," says Josphat Mwamba Mtwana, who is the Project Coordinator of Mikoko Pamoja, a community-led project that has been protecting and restoring Gazi Bay's mangrove forests since 2013.
Mikoko Pamoja protects 117 hectares of state-owned mangroves, representing almost 16% of mangroves in the bay. Each year, the project plants a further 4,000 mangrove trees in eroding areas. These two measures actively combat climate change.
How? Mangroves are natural carbon-scrubbers. As they respire, mangroves suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. They store CO2, which is one of the key greenhouse gases causing climate change, in their above-ground and below-ground components, and in the soil beneath their spider leg roots. Long-term storage of CO2 is a process called carbon sequestration, and as such, a mangrove forest acts as a 'carbon sink'.
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