This project to restore a mangrove forest — the biggest initiative of its kind in the world to date — proved hugely popular, with 100,000 people from 450 villages pitching in to plant trees. Local communities have now planted 80 million mangrove trees over an area of nearly 8,000 hectares, with backing from the Livelihoods Carbon Fund and French tour operator Voyageurs du Monde. The project will be monitored over 20 years. It is expected to sequester — i.e., capture and store in the soil — around 600,000 tons of CO2.
Why does it matter?
Senegal’s Casamance and Sine Saloum river deltas have lost more than 100,000 acres of mangrove forests to drought and human activities since the 1970's. This has put the livelihood of local communities at risk: farming is being jeopardized as salt water infiltrates and degrades arable land. Stocks of fish and firewood, two of the resources that local people depend on, are also being rapidly depleted as mangroves — one of the world’s most complex ecosystems — disappear.
How does it work?
The Livelihoods Carbon Fund and Senegalese NGO Oceanium set up the project, building on widespread community participation. Local project representatives travelled to villages to spread awareness of the importance of mangroves. Villagers were asked to choose the plots where they wanted to plant, and turned out in great numbers to collect and plant the mangrove propagules, or seed pods.
How does this project create value?
Restoring mangroves not only sequestrates atmospheric CO2, it also boosts depleted fish stocks, along with the shrimps, oysters, and molluscs that shelter in mangrove forests. Mangroves also prevent salt water from entering rice fields. This results in more food being available for local communities, and higher incomes for fishermen and farmers.
Photo credit: @ Hellio – Van Ingen