Western Indian Ocean mangroves secrets

By Wanjohi Kabukuru

[Ilha da Inhaca, Mozambique] Mangroves are fascinating trees.

At the breathtaking Rufiji Delta in Tanzania where the River Rufiji empties into the Indian Ocean, an interesting story is narrated by a resident Richard Mtila.

“In 1987 the Tanzanian government imposed a moratorium on mangroves cutting in the Rufiji Delta to protect the expansive mangroves forests in Tanzania as the harvesting of poles had gone beyond control.” Mtila says. “This policy was impossible to enforce and it led to bad relations between coastal communities and the government. It actually ended up endangering mangroves as illegal cutting of mangroves continued.”

Four years later the government was forced back to the drawing board. However, this time around the government was smarter. It sought to know first why its policy had failed before coming up with another policy.

“In 1991 a government led study revealed that the government failed to include community participation in mangrove conservation and in 1997 the Tanzanian government changed its forest law to allow for community participation.” Mtila says. “The hard lessons had been learned. And those lessons came from mangroves and coastal communities.”

Read the full article from http://www.theioo.com/index.php/en/environment/item/519-western-indian-ocean-mangroves-secrets

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