Mangroves for Life:

We are destroying a coastal ecosystem that helps sustain life and livelihoods. But now there is a plan to reverse mangrove loss in West Africa. Mangroves are salt tolerant trees that provide essential goods and services for people and nature. They are the nursery room for fish, crabs, shrimps and oysters and thus essential for the regional economy. Communities rely on mangroves for fuel wood and construction.

Mangroves also play a vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. They protect the coastlines against tropical storms. In addition, mangroves are among the most intense carbon sinks on the planet. 

Yet despite their importance, mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world and mangrove loss are rampant across the globe. 

12 coastal countries in West Africa, from Mauritania to Nigeria, have now joined forces. Mangroves for Life is their 10-year program to restore, increase and properly manage the mangroves in their countries


Problem We Are Trying to Solve

In spite the incredible value for people and nature, the pressure on mangrove ecosystem is high. Mangroves in West Africa experience deforestation rates of 1.7 percent per year. Between 1980 and 2000, 35% of all mangroves were lost. 

Many threats contribute to this deforestation and degradation. The most important being that WestAfrica’s coastlines have some of the highest and most rapidly growing population densities which leads to over exploitation of mangrove areas and unsustainable practices.

Communities rely on mangrove wood as the primary - and often only - fuel source for home cooking, fish smoking, palm oil production and salt production

Mechanized, intensive agriculture with cash crops such as rice, oil palm, rubber,  cashew nuts and coconuts helped to meet food self-sufficiency, employment, and 
cash for local communities and government agencies, but also caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of hectares of mangroves and other coastal forests. 

The development of large-scale infrastructure – harbours, roads - and mining in coastal areas led to the disappearance of mangrove forests.The effects of climate change like rising sea levels, erosion from extreme weather, and increased storm surge, form significant and growing threats to remaining mangrove areas.

How We Are Going To Do It

In 12 countries on the West African coast Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria we will take the following actions to stop the loss of mangroves.

Conserve existing mangroves, through policy influencing, awareness raising and education Restoration of degraded mangrove areas, by:

Creating enabling conditions for natural mangrove recovery and increase, like breaking down dikes around abandoned rice fieldsReplanting campaigns by local communities Introduce improved woodstoves and solar energy

New economic activities that reduce the pressure on mangroves, like production of honey and cultivating oysters by women groups (with micro-credits)Carbon trading pilots, to value the CO2 stored in mangroves and seagrass.

This so-called “blue carbon” can become a new source of income for communities Capacity building and campaigning for effective management and sound national and international policies, for long term success

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Who Benefits

By 2030:

Degradation and disappearance of the current 1.7 million ha. mangrove forests in the 12 countries have stopped.The degraded mangrove forests have been restored

Current mangrove area has increased with up to 0.5 million ha, including buffer zones and associated ecosystems

8,5 giga tons of CO2 will be sustainably stored in the mangrove areas

The livelihoods of local communities in coastal areas has sustainably been improved; poverty will reduce, health will improve

120 million people in West Africa directly or indirectly benefit

Long Term Impact

West African mangroves and biodiversity are healthy; they support the livelihoods of 
people, protect them against the risks of climate change and generate financial 

They defined the Mangroves for Life programme to achieve this goal:By 2030, 2.2 million ha. of West African mangroves are restored and well-managed, maintaining their biodiversity and providing goods and services to 120 million people.

What We Need To Do

    Ark 2030 is funding two strategies as part of its Mangroves for Life Programme:

    Fund the planting of over 1.5 Billion Mangrove Trees

    Build a cook stove and solar power infra structure team for the 12 country Mangroves for Life programme; establishing distribution networks for the domestic and community energy supplies which will have a significant impact on reversing the destruction of valuable mangrove eco systems and mitigate the significant impact that the use of open stoves has on the health and life expectancy of women and children in the region


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