CESEA - Coastal Ecosystem Services in East Africa
The CESEA project was a collaboration between scientists and researchers in Tanzania, Kenya and the UK to find new ways to help local people maintain their coastal resources whilst beating poverty, in particular those that rely on mangroves and seagrasses which are vital for fish, coastal protection and the capture and storage of carbon.
The project team assisted with the local and national management of these ecosystems by:
- working with the forestry departments in Kenya and Zanzibar to open up new channels of engagement with local communities
- researching how to emulate the success of mangrove payments for ecosystem services for seagrasses which provide similar carbon capture benefits
- exploring why some communities in East Africa have a good record of managing their mangroves and seagrasses, whilst others have degraded ecosystems
Key findings of this project included:
- The presence of seagrass increased carbon density in sediments from 4 to 6 times. This carbon is vulnerable to loss following seagrass removal, hence there are good scientific grounds for inclusion of seagrass carbon in integrated mangrove/seagrass Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes.
- Local forest officers use a range of approaches (‘bricolage’) to achieve their mandated roles in supporting participatory forest management. However there are numerous barriers to successful participatory forest management, including lack of resources, corruption and inadequate decentralisation. Some barriers may be relatively easily overcome through better within-institutional communication and training.
- It is possible to describe and rank the health of mangrove ecosystems and their local governance using objective criteria. There are relationships between local governance and ecosystem health that allow understanding of sustainability of resource use and selection of suitable sites for participatory management and payments for ecosystem services.
Featured image courtesy of Kate Holt ©