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Giriama (Robinson) Island


Conservation benefit: Conservation of 198 acres of mangrove forest in perpetuity

Community benefit: Water cistern, equipment for the Marereni Beach Management Unit, mangrove replanting

Date Approved: 02.2019


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Robinson Island, off the central Kenyan coast, was long connected to the mainland by vast mangrove forests. Many of those trees were cleared to make room for salt ponds. As a result, erosion increased, and an ever-widening creek now separates the island from the mainland. Green and hawksbill turtles use a long stretch of pristine beach on the east side of the island as a nesting ground. Olive ridley and occasional loggerhead turtles also feed there.

The salt ponds caused other damage as well. They discharged highly saline water into the surrounding mangrove creeks, damaging the fisheries. The brackish water also contaminated underground water reservoirs, making wells in the villages of Giriama and Kinyaole unusable.

Close to 1,000 people live on the island or depend on it for their livelihoods and know the importance of mangroves. Some replanting has taken place, but more is needed. This project will scale up current conservation and replanting efforts, as well as support environmental education. Because fresh water is a critical need on the island, the project will fund a 66,000-thousand-gallon cistern. It will also provide funds to the Marereni Beach Management Unit (BMU) to improve its capacity to enforce conservation rules.

The project will be managed by the Marereni BMU and the Marine Resource and Management Center (MRMC), a local NGO. MRMC has experience in mangrove conservation and restoration, and will take the lead identifying and mapping degraded areas, as well as restoration and monitoring.

Project Updates

January 2021

The project came to a close in September 2020. Beach Management Unit (BMU) elections that were meant to be conducted by the end of 2020 have been delayed due to COVID-related government restrictions. An interim committee will hold office until the elections are held, likely in 2021, once the current restrictions on gatherings are lifted. The BMU is planning to place beacon lighting at the land donated by the Mtsere family for the cistern. The BMU is already consulting with the county government on establishing a fishing co-management area in the community.

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June 2020

A final inspection of the cistern took place in March, as well as a field assessment for the final mangrove replanting. The cistern is in use by the community; recent heavy rains have been beneficial. The current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic mean that the few project activities remaining will have to wait. When restrictions lift, the final mangrove replanting will take place, awareness materials will be produced, and the project will officially be closed.

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December 2019

The project is 75 percent complete. A mangrove study was conducted to identify areas for replantation and train community members for replanting. A total of 3,500 seedlings were successfully planted in the degraded areas, and monitoring conducted in August and November verified a 90 percent survival rate. Construction of the rainwater harvesting cistern is underway, with the main storage structure complete. A community member donated land for the cistern and for future use by the Beach Management Unit (BMU) or any additional public infrastructure project. The BMU has procured the Seacology-funded equipment and furniture for its office.

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August 2019

Seacology representatives visited the site this summer. The land needed for construction of the water cistern has been legally transferred to the BMU, and construction is scheduled to begin soon. The BMU officers are using their new Seacology-funded equipment to monitor the ecosystem, and mangrove replanting is ongoing.

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May 2019

This month the community held a launch ceremony, attended by the County Fisheries Officer, the local chief, the chairman of the Community Forest Association, the village headman, and the chairman and members of the Beach Management Unit (BMU). Field Representative Dishon Murage reported that even more people were expected, but long-anticipated rains had just started, and many community members were at their farms planting. Mangrove mapping and replanting, as well as site preparation and design of the water cistern, will begin now.

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