Our January-March journey on the Mangrove Blue Carbon Project

The first quarter was so fast paced having a number of activities and targets we had to achieve as we set out for the project.

1.  Research to support the carbon credit project

  • Stakeholders Mapping & Risk Analysis
  • The social-economic drivers for mangrove loss at the sites in Tanzania.
  • Mapping mangrove ecosystem service and use case scenarios.

 (a) Stakeholder Mapping

Study was conducted in six sites; Mlingotini, Kunduchi , Buyuni, Kisutu Jaja and Ruma to understand the key stakeholders to be involved in BCP and their role, as well as potential risks of BCP and mitigations strategies. This study was conducted through Focus group discussions, The FGD participants included fishers, crop farmers, small business operators, and individuals engaged in related occupations like mangrove cutters, handcrafters, and motorcycle riders (locally known as bodaboda). The information gathered from the FGDs was further enriched through key informant interviews (KIIs) with 24 individuals, including: (i) one forest officer/representative from Kibiti, Kigamboni, Kinondoni and Bagamoyo Districts (ii) one village elder in each selected hamlet, (iii) two village leaders per hamlet and (iv) one member of existing local management committees in each village (i.e. Beach Management Units and/ Village Natural Resources Committees).

Following the introduction of the mangrove blue carbon project, local communities were surveyed regarding their willingness to participate and the key aspects they considered crucial for the project’s success.The findings revealed a notable enthusiasm among respondents, with over 76% expressing a readiness to engage in the project aimed at mangrove restoration and enhanced conservation efforts. Particularly, communities in Jaja and Buyuni exhibited higher levels of willingness. Delving deeper into the key aspects deemed crucial for the success of the mangrove blue carbon project, household heads in the study area identified six critical factors. Over 90% of respondents emphasized the genuine participation of the community in project activities as paramount, with the local community positioned as the cornerstone of the entire process. Additionally, facilitating capacity building at the grassroots level and ensuring enhanced transparency in project activities emerged as fundamental requirements. Furthermore, the respect for local people’s rights in the utilization of mangrove resources was underscored as essential for the project’s integrity and sustainability.

These findings underscore the importance of community engagement and empowerment in the success of conservation initiatives such as the mangrove blue carbon project. By prioritizing genuine participation, capacity building, transparency, and respect for local rights, the project stands poised to not only revive mangroves but also foster a sense of ownership and stewardship among the communities it serves.

(b) Drivers for Mangrove loss at the sites in Tanzania 

The study conducted in selected sites examined local community perceptions regarding changes in mangrove cover over the past decade (2013-2023) across different sites. While the majority of respondents indicated stable mangrove cover, variations were observed across locations. Specifically, Ruma, Jaja, and Buyuni reported increases in mangrove cover, attributed to natural recovery and restoration efforts. Conversely, Mji Mpya and Mlingotini reported decreases, with factors including population growth, inadequate management, and illegal exploitation cited as contributors to mangrove decline. Climate change and pollution were also identified as significant drivers of mangrove degradation in certain areas, such as Ruma, Jaja, Buyuni, and Kunduchi. Overall, inadequate management, climate change, and illegal exploitation were cited as primary causes of mangrove loss, although the perceived importance of these factors varied among different communities.

Perceived viable strategies to tackle mangrove loss.

In order to alleviate the threats/pressure to mangrove forests and slow down their degradation, communities were asked to share their insights on how to protect mangroves while enhancing the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Through a comprehensive household survey, the consensus among respondents emerged clear: a multifaceted approach is essential. Overall, more than 84% of respondents in the study area advocated for not only the implementation of suitable harvesting plans, but also the promotion of alternatives livelihood activities (beekeeping and irrigation in horticultural crops) to enhance both food and income security, as well as to strengthen community governance through local institutions in order to tackle illegal extraction and degradation of the mangrove forests.

( c ) Mangrove ecosystem services (MES) mapping

The study conducted in the Tanzanian coastal communities identified a total of twenty Mangrove Ecosystem Services (MES) through focused group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs). Interestingly, residents of Ruma and Jaja displayed a heightened awareness of mangrove services even before facilitators engaged with them, particularly emphasizing provisioning MES. Among these, poles, firewood, and honey emerged as the most frequently mentioned services, indicating their paramount importance for livelihood sustenance.

However, certain provisioning services such as fodder for animals, rice farming sites, and fruit were cited to a lesser extent, suggesting varying priorities among communities. In terms of regulating services, coastal protection and climate regulation were highly acknowledged, underlining the vital role mangroves play in mitigating coastal erosion and contributing to climate stability. Nonetheless, carbon storage for climate mitigation received less attention in this category.

Cultural services were valued for their intrinsic worth, with natural beauty and educational value being prominently acknowledged. However, spiritual beliefs associated with mangroves were mentioned to a lesser extent. Within the supporting services category, fishing grounds for fisheries and biodiversity support stood out as essential for livelihoods and ecological balance. Yet, soil formation, crucial for mangrove sustainability, received comparatively less recognition.

2. Legal consultation on the implementation of Blue Carbon Project and preparation of the synopsis. 

The “Establishment of Voluntary Blue Carbon Credit to Restore Mangrove and Support coastal communities” project, aims to tackle legislative challenges surrounding the operation of a Blue Carbon Project in Tanzania.

The project engages seasoned professionals in compliance management and legal advisory, seeking insights on legal structures, ownership arrangements, and compliance strategies. Key meetings with experts such as WCS Carbon Project Coordinator and legal advisors provide valuable insights into legal compliance, ownership structures, and project implementation challenges.

Recommendations include exploring Participatory Forest Management (PFM) models, learning from precedents, and engaging with local communities and stakeholders to ensure project sustainability and compliance with Tanzanian laws. Additionally, risks associated with project implementation, such as delays and legal compliance issues, are identified and addressed through mitigation measures.


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