Alongside mangroves, under shallow water, lies another vitally important ecosystem: seagrass meadows. Seagrass meadows are the unsung heroes of coasts around the world – just like mangroves, they trap and store carbon, act as a nursery habitat for marine species, and protect the coast from erosion. Yet in comparison to mangroves, these benefits go largely unrecognised. We’re working to change that in Gazi Bay.
Gazi Bay is a wide and shallow bay, fringed by mangroves on the mainland and on Chale Island. It is home to our world-famous Mikoko Pamoja project, and we are working to incorporate the seagrass meadows into the project to ensure their protection. Research by our partners at KMFRI and other scientists worldwide has demonstrated that together, healthy mangrove and seagrass ecosystems have greater environmental benefits than either ecosystem alone. This means that a joined-up approach to conserving them will bring greater benefits to carbon storage, fisheries enhancement and coastal protection.
In any successful conservation project, local people and stakeholders are at the centre of the project design. In Gazi, the biggest threat to seagrass is damage by fishing gear. Fishing is a livelihood for many in Gazi Bay – it provides income and puts food on the table for many families in the surrounding villages. Through our local partners, we are working closely with the fishing community and other stakeholders to ensure that the seagrass protection does not negatively impact on their livelihoods.
Using our experiences of community-based mangrove and seagrass conservation, we have developed a community guide alongside United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other colleagues, available here.