Shimoni Research Centre is situated in the port town of Shimoni in Kwale County. The area is a tourist destination on the south coast of Kenya in close proximity to the Kenya-Tanzania border with access to Wasini Island via the Shimoni-Wasini channel. Among the tourist attractions includes pre-historic Shimoni caves, Kisite Marine Park & Reserve, Wasini Island and the vast mangrove ecosystems. There is also a strong fishing history, and a rich cultural heritage. The Shimoni Center is situated close to the Pemba channel which provides a unique opportunity for KMFRI to carry out a diversity of research in the area. The Center specialises in aquaculture, seaweed farming, mangroves corals, and deep-sea research.
The Centre comprises of the Shimoni Centre itself and Gazi Field station that is located in Gazi bay. Research at Gazi is concentrated on mainly mangroves, seagrass and coral, and on the human interactions. Visiting students and researchers continuously contribute to the diversity of research carried out at Gazi and Shimoni. This research is carried out in collaboration with various organizations and institutes, including but not limited to, Earthwatch Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, Bangor University, Kenya Forest Service, and World Wildlife Fund. KMFRI also supports community development in Gazi and Vanga, which includes the blue carbon project and income generating activities. We have supported the establishment of local fishponds to provide an alternative livelihood for local people, and continue to promote ecotourism through our support to the Gazi women mangrove boardwalk.
KMFRI have been conducting mangrove research in Gazi since the 1980s, making it among the most studied mangrove sites in the world. There is an impressive mangrove plantation that was established in 1994 that now serves as a field school to study recovery pathways of restored mangroves. Mangrove planting continues to be an important activity in the restoration of Gazi bay. KMFRI staff and students regularly monitor the natural and replanted mangroves, working closely with local communities to utilise the vital role citizen science can play in research and conservation. Besides studying mangrove trees, there are a wealth of ongoing research topics based in the Shimoni Center. These have included publications on benthic fauna, fisheries and oceanographic processes in the ecosystems which surround Gazi bay, from mangroves to seagrass and a fringing coral reef.
KMFRI Gazi hosts Mikoko Pamoja, a Plan Vivo project that is based on more than a decade of mangrove research. Mikoko Pamoja is the first community-based project in the world to use the sale of carbon credits to fund mangrove forest conservation and community development. Science is combined with community involvement to earn funds for mangrove conservation and local development projects. Through Kenya Coastal Development Project (KCDP), Mikoko Pamoja received funding to construct an observatory tower to monitor illegal activities in designated mangrove areas of Gazi.
KMFRI team at Shimoni Centre and Gazi station have been involved in various activities with local and international impact. Locally, there is a continuous effort to educate the community about the importance of mangroves and associated ecosystems. We have been conducting onsite training on development and management of pond cultures in mangrove areas. On national level, the Center is involved in various projects, including; the development of national mangrove management plan, seagrass strategy, as well as environmental assessment for the upscaling of seaweed farming.
In the regional process, Shimoni Center is one of the partners involved in the Transboundary Conservation Area (TBCA) initiative being spearheaded by KWS and Tanzania Parks Agency. Our members have contributed to the international instruments including, UNEP’s TDA/SAP for the Wiolab project as well the IPCC (2013) supplement of national green house accounting: coastal wetlands.
On capacity building, KMFRI Shimoni continuously support training and education, and recently hosted the 2nd International Training Course on Mangrove Ecosystems in the Western Indian Ocean Region.
Recent and on-going projects
Project title: Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystem Services (SPACES)
Project Duration: April 2013 – October 2016 : Funding: NERC-ESPA
The overall aim of this ESPA funded project is to undertake world leading rigorous and innovative research to empirically test and understand the complex relationship between ecosystem services and the wellbeing of the poor in coastal Kenya and Mozambique, in order to identify realistic opportunities for the dual goal of poverty alleviation and sustainable resource use. The research will produce empirical analysis that will:
- provide evidence to advance understanding of the complex relationships between ecosystems and well-being and the role of ecosystem service in poverty alleviation;
- advance innovative methods for analyzing and communicating these relationships;
- have enduring impact in the sites and countries where research takes place through enhanced information and new networks;
- directly inform policy through engagement with appropriate government, NGO and donor agencies;
- enhance capacity of African and international scientists to undertake inter-disciplinary, collaborative and systems-based research on ecosystem services and development.
Project title: Coastal Ecosystem Services in East Africa (CESEA)
Project Duration: April 2014 – October 2016: Funding: NERC-ESPA
The overarching research question in CESEA project is: How can the development of pro-poor community-based PES schemes incorporating multiple coastal ecosystem services be supported by existing governance systems, national bodies and international protocols? This was addressed through three workstreams with distinct but overlapping questions and key outputs:
- How can the meso-level institutions essential in facilitating community-based schemes be supported in assisting them? What were the barriers and the opportunities for change?
- How can mangrove based PES schemes be extended to include contiguous and ecologically integrated seagrass ecosystems, to improve their scope, security and ecological realism?
- How do governance arrangements influence how mangrove forests and seagrass beds are managed and how can propitious local governance arrangements be identified and encouraged through the recruitment of appropriate communities?
Key output of CESEA:
- institutional understanding and change and pro-poor influence of national policy.
- demonstration of scientific and practical potential for integrated mangrove/seagrass PES schemes in the East African region.
- understanding of determinants and nature of good local governance, knowledge exchange and identification of best sites for new integrated PES schemes.
Project title: Returning the Lost Mangrove Forests and other Ecosystem Services in Mombasa County, Kenya
Project Duration: Sept 2015 – August 2016 : Funding: WWF-USA
The conservation objective of the current call is to restore the functionality of degraded mangrove areas. The overall objective of the project is to return the supply of mangroves goods and services in Mombasa County of Kenya. More specifically the objectives are:
- To work with the communities and government agencies in the establishment of nurseries for major mangrove species in Tudor Creek for restoration activities.
- Reforest the degraded mangrove areas of Tudor creek using appropriate mangrove species
- Enhance local capacity on the establishment, maintenance and monitoring of mangrove plantations beyond the project timeframe.
- Increase in mangrove cover
- 30 community members trained on ecological mangrove restoration
- Increased awareness on mangrove goods and services
- Reduction of shoreline erosion
- Enhanced community understanding on the true value of mangroves and need for their conservation
- Contribute to climate change mitigation and increased carbon storage
- Increased fisheries and other wildlife dependent on mangroves
- A green environment for the people
Project title: Blue Forests
The overall objective of the project is to apply methodologies and approaches for carbon accounting and ecosystem service valuation in Blue Carbon Projects so as to provide evidence-based experience that supports replication, up-scaling and adoption of Blue Forests concepts by the international community and the GEF. The project is being implemented under the following components:
- Development of guidance for carbon accounting and ecosystem services valuation for blue forests ecosystems
- Application of blue forests methodologies for carbon accounting and ecosystem services valuation
- Improving the understanding of carbon storage and sequestration and ecosystem services of blue forests
- Options for the adoption of methodologies and approaches by the international community
- Improved knowledge of coastal and marine ecosystem managers and stakeholders in selected regions on carbon sequestration, storage, possible greenhouse gas emissions as well as ecosystem services in blue forests ecosystems and on possible policy/economic instruments that may be applied to sustainable coastal habitat management.
- Improved understanding of ecosystem services and carbon storage, possible greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration and fluxes for blue forests ecosystems through targeted research and peer-reviewed literature, with a particular focus on ecosystems lacking knowledge (seagrass)
- Increased stakeholder awareness of the ecosystem services and carbon values of blue forests ecosystems.
Project title: TRANS-COAST: Transboundary coastal processes and human resource utilisation patterns as a basis for a Kenya-Tanzania conservation area initiative
Project duration: 2016-2020
Trans-Coast project aims at strengthening the capacity of Kenya and Tanzania in restoring their natural habitat health whilst conserving biodiversity at the local, national and transboundary level in the two countries, for the benefit of the population. The project strives for a common policy on coastal and marine conservation, without diluting national ongoing efforts.
The project consists of six Work Packages (WP), as follows:
- Sediment impacts on mangrove and seagrass systems and resources, as a possible result of catchment land use management;
- Coastal current modeling: the connecting vector of mostly passively moving coastal organisms (propagules, larvae, juveniles);
- Population genetic patterns of coastal organisms and their (meta)population character;
- Transboundary resource uses of coastal ecosystems and cultural affinities of coastal communities with ecosystems;
- Wood density and carbon sequestration by mangroves in various ecological settings in the TBCA area;
- Translation of scientific data of the above research lines into a policy-support document contributing to the design and zoning within the TBCA.
Dr. James Gitundu Kairo
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
Shimoni Research Center
P.O. Box 81651-80100
Phone: +252 (0) 20 2353226, (0)710 173393