ACES was founded alongside the creation of the world's first community-led blue carbon project: Mikoko Pamoja, Kiswahili for Mangroves Together
“As scientists, we were able to identify all the reasons why mangroves were important; how they protected shorelines, filtered sediments, supported biodiversity, and captured carbon. However, just demonstrating this was not enough to ensure their conservation or to bring much-needed resources
to the local communities who relied upon them. Being challenged by local elders to use our scientific work to really bring benefits, for people and for nature, was the stimulus to develop Mikoko Pamoja.” – Professor Mark Huxham
Since the 1980s, the mangroves of Gazi Bay in southern Kenya have become possibly the best-studied mangrove forest in Africa. The local Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institution (KMFRI) research station, led by eminent mangrove scientist Dr James Kairo, was at the heart of this.
Researchers from across the world came to Gazi to study the trees, biodiversity, and carbon of the Gazi mangroves. Among these was Professor Mark Huxham of Edinburgh Napier University, who began visiting Gazi in 2002.
It was on a visit to Gazi in 2008 that the idea for Mikoko Pamoja came about. A conversation with community members got Mark questioning how much local people were benefitting from the research taking place in their local area. Together with KMFRI’s Dr Kairo, the local community, and other partners, Mark founded Mikoko Pamoja.
We support community-based conservation of blue carbon ecosystems. Until recently, these ecosystems and their many benefits were overlooked.
Marine and coastal ecosystems are also known as blue carbon ecosystems, particularly mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and saltmarsh; this due is to their capacity to capture and store (sequester) carbon from the atmosphere. The (blue) carbon stored in these ecosystems can be locked away for hundreds, or even thousands, of years due to their waterlogged nature.
These ecosystems support rich biodiversity above and below the waves. They attract sea turtles, sharks, manatees and dugongs, birds, and even tigers. Additionally, as they are important habitats for fish and shellfish, they also offer opportunities for tourism to coastal economies, supporting local fisheries and livelihoods.
Furthermore, these ecosystems act as natural sea walls and protect the coast and the local people from coastal erosion and storms. They are a source of timber and other products relied on by millions of people. They provide educational and recreational opportunities and often hold great cultural and spiritual value to those who live alongside them.
Ecosystems are made up of a community of living animals, plants, invertebrates, and microbes, along with non-living elements such as the air, water, and land. This landscape conservation approach also means that the people living around these habitats have the long-term capacity to use the environment in a sustainable way, which will help towards alleviating poverty in rural communities and developing countries.
Our work is internationally recognised
Our pioneering work has been recognised with a number of achievements such as winning the Equator Initiative Prize and the support from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to seed fund our most recent project: Vanga Blue Forest.
To the right: Josphat Mwamba, the former Project Coordinator for Mikoko Pamoja, receives the 2017 Equator Initiative Prize for community-based solutions to climate change
Since 2012, ACES has expanded to include Vanga Blue Forest within our portfolio of projects and to support other community groups in Africa and Asia in their mangrove conservation work. Our charitable objectives are to do what we can to help coastal communities around the world benefit from the conservation of their ecosystems.
We provide free support to communities who are passionate about conserving and restoring their coastal ecosystems. We never have and will never make a profit from providing our services, skills, or expertise to local coastal communities at the heart of conservation.