Here’s how we save the “mikoko haiishi” mangroves
By Mbaarak Abdalla | July 26, 2021
Tudor Creek is a mangrove haven, based off the Kenyan coast, where Mombasa Island splits off from the mainland. Teeming with wildlife, from monitor lizards to the vervet monkey, the creek is home to eight different mangrove tree species including red mangrove, spurred mangrove and white mangrove. But it is under severe threat.
33 year old Mbaarak Abdalla from Mombasa County, Kenya has been inspired to restore and safeguard these mangrove wetlands – both for the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods, and for its unique biodiversity. The Tudor mangroves are one of a number of wetlands across the East African coastline to experience rapid loss over the last decade.
Here is his letter to world leaders as part of the Our World in Your Hands series.
Dear world leaders,
My community once took for granted the presence of mangrove forests. “Mikoko haiishi”, meaning mangrove trees never deplete, was a phrase commonly used by neighbouring communities in Mombasa and Lamu.
Not until the Elnino rains in 1997, continuous oil spills and other anthropogenic activities that led to the degradation of over 1,850ha of mangrove forest, did the community realize “Mikoko huisha” — mangroves do deplete.
The main drivers, Elnino rains, that led to the degradation of the mangrove forest were caused by climate change. The ecosystem is being brought to its knees by anthropogenic activities which are causing the worst impacts of climate change.
We are in a constant rat race as a result of the climate change we have initiated, which is affecting us greatly.
The common man needs to understand and take responsibility for his actions. A PET bottle used three years ago in a different country may find its way to Tudor creek this season as winds blow it towards Kenyan coasts. Here it will kill young fish in the mangrove roots, the nurseries of marine life, dislodging new propagules where they had just started to grow, and threatening flora and fauna.
Climate change, that led to lack of rains, will increase temperatures and salinity levels, among other things, which will kill mangrove trees, cause coral bleaching, and much much more.
More conservation efforts must be initiated but, most importantly, continually practiced. We can only prevent runaway climate change once we all take responsibility: plant more trees, close the loop with circular economies, and think about the broader impacts of all our activities.
With these actions, Kenyans, who lacked the long rains this year may one day receive rainfall, the receding beach line will be recovered, and we will once again be proud of our sandy beaches and abundance of mangroves as they were before.
My name is Mbaarak Abdalla. A 33-year-old passionate about mangrove restoration and conservation in Tudor creek with Brain Youth Group, Mombasa County and Kenya at large with the Forest Restoration Agency (FRA).
Let us today protect our tomorrow.