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East African Mangrove Carbon Project

Mangroves within the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania.
Mangroves within the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania.

Mangroves are recognized for their numerous ecosystem services and functions that are critical to environmental health and human wellbeing in the regions where they occur and beyond. Although mangroves comprise only 0.7 percent of the world's tropical forests, they have been shown to contain globally significant carbon pools, storing up to five times more carbon per area than typical upland tropical forests. As a result, there is interest in considering mangroves in national climate adaptation and mitigation plans; however, there is insufficient information available for developing sustainable use strategies or for considering adaptation strategies to threats from climate change, sea level rise, and land use conversion, particularly in East Africa.

The lack of regionally specific mangrove knowledge for East Africa warrants an active research, education and technology transfer program to provide needed information and enhance local capacity in the science and management of mangroves. Recognizing that a research and demonstration site is needed to provide the basis for long-term monitoring, experimentation, training and education, the US AID Africa Bureau is supporting the establishment of two research and teachings forests in Mozambique and Tanzania. The purpose is to launch a facility that can sanction research, demonstration, and education activities in such a way as to realize long-term studies, interdisciplinary and participatory monitoring, and a field laboratory for demonstrating good management practices and effective restoration techniques, similar to the goals of the USFS network of Experimental Forests. Local communities are involved to ensure their socio-economic needs are considered in both the operation of the forest and in the studies and demonstration trials. The mangrove research forest being established in Tanzania is located in the Rufiji River Delta, and the one in Mozambique located in Maputo Bay. Each of these forests is being developed by an inter-agency team within the respective countries and they will have the responsibility for the long-term operation and coordination of the facility. Establishing monitoring capabilities and baseline studies are part of the start-up activities, which are intended to provide a foundation for collaborators working on the site. Future activities among the mangrove research forest will be coordinated through the West Indian Ocean Mangrove Network.

CONTACTS: Carl Trettin and Christina Stringer