What competencies do the local management have – the Mikoko Pamoja Steering Group and the Project Co-ordinator?

The co-ordinator is a full time employee under the management of our local supervisor Dr James Kairo of Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (a government institute). Hence he has strong line management and must report to government standards. The Mikoko Pamoja Steering group is registered with the Kenyan government – so they have official legal status. They consist of elected members representing the people of the Gazi Bay area, and include  a local headmaster, village chief, and school secretary. This means they have a democratic mandate and command local respect. They are not competent to make scientific decisions but have our assistance with that. However, they are fully competent in representing local people and in conducting community consultations with the help of the co-ordinator. They also assist with the range of tasks needed to run the project but again are assisted by the technical advisors on the ground and overseas, and by the full time co-ordinator

Who conducts the annual inspection of the project?

It is conducted by the Mikoko Pamoja Steering group under the guidance of our technical advisory team on the ground (which includes ACES members such as Professor Mark Huxham and Dr James Kairo of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute). The report is then scrutinised by ACES before submission to the Plan Vivo Foundation. The project is then additionally audited every 5 years by an external auditor from Europe.

How is the projects financed at present?

The Mikoko Pamoja project is financed solely from the sale of carbon credits. The sale of carbon credits for $10/ton currently covers all costs of running the project. Stakeholders and the general community are paid by the Mikoko Pamoja steering group for any work directly conducted for the project, such as planting and transplanting saplings, usually by bank-transfer. The local population benefits from the project by receiving money from the sale of carbon credits, generated from their conservation of the mangrove forests that occur next to their villages, to fund communal development project. These projects include initiatives such as repairing school roofs and supplying new books for the local primary schools. The development projects are decided and managed by the Mikoko Pamoja steering group.

The Mikoko Pamoja project is not dependent on any other financing other than the money it earns from the sale of Plan Vivo carbon credit certificates and no other organisations contribute funds. Other organsiations such as the Earthwatch institute contribute financially towards the project by buying these Plan Vivo certificates to offset their carbon footprints.

Has the project or any of the organisations involved received any prizes or other international recognition?

The Mikoko Pamoja project was hailed as a module for a successful community based conservation project at the recent mangrove symposium hosted by the Zoological Society of London – Turning the Tide on Mangrove Loss. The project has also received international recognition as a pioneering work through its partnerships with ESPA, Earthwatch Institute and Bangor and Napier Universities. It has also received sales endorsements by the Earthwatch Institute and private supporters.

What’s special about the project, that distinguishes it from others?

This is the only community based mangrove conservation project in the world. The emphasis of this project is that is works towards alleviating poverty through payments-for-ecosystem services schemes, issued as carbon credits. The carbon credits come from the carbon stored in the mangrove forests that the community protects and manages. No other such scheme exists in the word, which is what distinguishes it from others.

What are carbon credits?

Carbon credits or offsetting is a way in which individuals and organisations can help reduce the damage caused by the carbon dioxide emissions for which they are responsible. We think the most important response to the threat of climate change is to change how we all live, reducing the amount of carbon pollution we produce. However offsetting is a useful approach to dealing with the carbon emissions that remain. By conserving and expanding natural carbon sinks we can help reduce the speed and effects of climate change.

Why coastal ecosystem services?

Our expertise comes from our backgrounds in marine biology and in working with coastal communities. Coastal ecosystems are amongst the most important in the world in providing essential services to local people and for the global environment

How is ACES run and funded?

ACES is a registered charity run by volunteers – there are no paid employees and all money raised by ACES goes to support our conservation and development projects.