part of the solution

from anglesea to kenya in the name of science
Alcoa Anglesea’s Lisa Mills, and the Surf Coast Shire Council’s Rowan Mackenzie, recently returned from an environmental research volunteering expedition in Kenya, as part of the Alcoa Foundation’s Earthwatch program.

The pair spent three weeks in a remote community at Gazi Bay in southern Kenya working among a research team of five Alcoa employees (from around the world), two community members from around Alcoa’s operations, and five Kenyan scientists.  Together they conducted vital research into the carbon cycle in mangroves and how we might be able to use these ecosystems to sequester carbon and potentially mitigate climate change.

Additional objectives included:
  • mangrove reforestation in order to sustain the supply of mangrove wood for local construction and fire wood; 
  • protecting mangroves as fishery nurseries for the local fishery industry; and 
  • providing an opportunity for community involvement in local mangrove conservation projects.

“I didn’t have any expectations before I left as I know very little about Kenya or mangroves; however the experience was more than I could have ever hoped for,” Lisa said.

“I could see the relevance of the research to climate change and what very simple solutions mangroves can provide locally in Kenya.

“Additionally I was heartened to see the host of positive side effects caused by this Earthwatch project, including community involvement and conservation of local resources. It was obvious how proud the local villagers were of this project and what a positive effect it has had on their lives. It is definitely an experience that I will never forget.

“I hope to use some of the experiences I had in Kenya to change my life at home in a positive way – including simplifying life and being happy with what we have,” Lisa said.

Rowan added: “The best part of the project was definitely getting to know the other Earthwatch Fellows, Gazi Bay scientists and villagers.

“I’ve taken away a new perspective on how people can live their lives in a way that is much more integrated with the natural world.

“I have been inspired that projects can start small, but if they genuinely seek to meet the interests of the community, business and the environment, then they can grow into really substantial and important programs that can influence people from across the world.

“I am extremely grateful to Alcoa for this experience and I hope that it can continue for other staff and community members,” Rowan said.

Read more about the Alcoa Foundation at www.alcoa.com/foundation.

Read more about the Alcoa Foundation’s Earthwatch program at www.alcoa.com/earthwatch.
 


A child from the local village in Gazi Bay, Kenya