Raymond Glover’s Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 26, 2009: Early Start

Village After a few hours of sleep I was woken with the sound of the call to prayer at one of the two mosques in the village (the village is predominantly Muslim), although I did manage another hour's sleep before getting up for a breakfast of Mandazi (a type of fried bread or doughnut) beans in coconut and fruit. We headed for the lab for a talk by Kairo on the work being undertaken on the Mangroves of Kenya, and then by Martin giving us an overview of the results of the project so far and explaining the biodiversity of the mangroves. After this the group headed out on what is known as the "Marathon." This is a trek through the mangrove forest in Gazi Bay to show us firsthand what had been described in the earlier talks, so we were able to identify some of the mangrove species by studying their leaf shape and root system. As we walked we also saw the abundance of animal/marine life from Uca (fiddler crabs) to squid and lobsters that the fisherman had caught. We saw some of theMarathon  work earlier Earthwatch teams had undertaken and how this is already starting to have an impact on the environment with regards to coastal erosion and deposits. We also saw the effects of farm land being destroyed following deforestation of the mangroves (by official contractors!). The effects could not be stopped even following the farmers' decision to import many hundreds of tonnes of stone to act as a defence, which ultimately proved ineffective despite the huge cost. The cost of replanting mangroves is also very expensive compared with adopting a sustainable approach to their management. Between the rain showers, we had lunch on the mangrove boardwalk, which is a project run by the Gazi Village Women to help raise awareness of the mangroves as well as providing income for the community. The marathon was as tough and muddy as I had read from earlier diary entries. At least we all ended the days with the right number of shoes, although not everybody's clothing came back in a fit state. We learnt a great deal during the trek both about the mangroves and also the team itself. After cleaning ourselves up, we had a talk by Martin on Eco System Services which covers how an eco system like the mangroves delivers goods, like fish and wood, but also delivers services like coastal protection and CO2 sequestration. He then explained the 5 points covering general methodology of scientific experiments (randomisation, replication, control, independence and correlation). Following a superb dinner of rice, fish and mchicha (a spinach dish) we had a very interesting and amusing talk on village life in Gazi by Hamisi, one of the team working with us, who was formerly a local fisherman but now works full time for KMFRI.

Click image to enlarge.