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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Initial findings of our mangrove questionnaire

During this expedition we have conducted mangrove questionnaires with members of the Mkwiro community. We asked a range of people, male, female, old, young, fishermen, weavers and askaris to tell us what they know about the Mkwiro mangroves. The questionnaire was designed to gain information about the use, economic benefit and also their opinions about the importance of mangroves.

We found that everybody we surveyed in the village uses the mangroves, and people collect mainly construction and fuel materials as and when they need them, which can mean daily in some cases, or once a year in others. Mangroves are also used for fishing equipment, poles, boat building, fences and we discovered that people use the mud for their houses.

Some girls head down to the mangroves daily to collect fuel wood

The yellow mangrove (mkandaa) was the most popular choice of tree species, because of the quality of the wood needed for construction, red mangrove (mkaka) was also used a lot. The most consistent piece of data collected about economic benefit was that to build a roof for a banda, you need 20 poles which cost 300ksh and an individual pole needed for boats was 20ksh. Fuel could also bring in an income of between 50-250ksh, with charcoal being more expensive than wood. Boats made from mangrove wood can reach up to a cost of 10,000ksh.

Most people agree that mangrove coverage has declined over the last 10 years, that there used to be approximately 50% more coverage than now. In the past mangroves were more heavily relied upon for materials. People are now using them less as a resource for construction, partly because more houses are being built from coral stone blocks and also, the ‘good’/straight pieces of wood are becoming less abundant (e.g. poles for roofing).

The importance of the mangrove resources and the fish populations they support is well known

The community are fully aware of the village’s need for the mangroves, and some even commented that without them they would fall on difficult times as the cost for resources increased significantly. Their knowledge on environmental significance was slightly more limited, although some knew that they are an important habitat for fish and that they also prevent soil erosion.

Overall, the questionnaire has so far given us an interesting insight into the relationship between the community and their mangroves; further reaching questionnaires are planned for the next few weeks and may shed more light or bring forward new ideas. This will continue to help us to organise follow up workshops, including developing educational workshops and constructing a sustainable management plan, including replanting schemes, so that the community will have a resource for future generations.