US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has emphasised on the importance of mangrove forests in environmental protection and sustaining the social well-being of coastal communities.
Godec said the mangrove ecosystem should be protected against indiscriminate extraction owing to its importance to fisheries.
“Mangrove provides breeding and feeding grounds for fish before they move out into the open sea hence they should be protected,” the envoy said.
Godec was speaking when he toured Gazi Bay Mikoko Pamoja Community Project and Women Mangrove Boardwalk in Kwale County.
The project involves planting and taking care of Mangrove trees along the shores of the Indian Ocean to trap carbon dioxide for climate change mitigation for which the community gets paid.
He said the forests were also very important in creating employment and income through initiatives like the Mikoko project which has improved livelihoods among its members.
“Credit goes to the national and county government and researchers among other stakeholders for the success of this project. It has created jobs and is helping to protect this area of coast region,” he said.
The envoy said the US had contributed towards establishing 10 hectares of Mangroves for the community when the project was starting noting that it was encouraging to see it flourish.
At the same time Godec acknowledged the devastating effects of the prevailing drought and promised that the US was looking at how it can offer additional assistance to Kenya.