In honor of World Rotary Day, 23rd February 2019 last year, I took part in the Joint Annual Mangrove Planting in Crabshack Watamu on behalf of Trashion Kenya. The community service was organized by Rotaract Club of Malindi in conjunction with Rotaract Club of Kilifi, Rotaract Club of Watamu, Rotaract Club of North Coast Training College, Rotaract Club of Karura and Rotaract Club of Kampala South; A year supply of sanitary towels & boxers to class 8 pupils were distributed to Dabaso Primary School and at least 10,000 mangrove seedlings (propagules) were planted in the coastline of Crabshack Dabaso in Watamu by Rotaractors.
Annually, Rotaract Club of Malindi holds mangrove planting projects raising awareness on preservation and conservation of the environment protecting marine biology, human economy and improve livelihood. After all, it is not just a corporate responsibility but also an individual’s to restore Mother Earth. This year it is happening on the 8th of February 2020.
We arrived at 9:00 a.m. at Crabshack Dabaso where we all gathered to meet. On entrance, a bridge cuts through a path that is served by Mangroves acting as a track path for the bridge leading towards the restaurant and mangrove forest.
Crabshack Dabaso floating restaurant is famous for the best crab samosas in town with amazing sunset sea views which is an attraction to tourists visiting Watamu and those on excursions.
Moreover, one of the many benefits of mangroves is that they provide habitats for shrimps, crabs, molluscs and finfish which are taken from the surrounding waters.
Prior to the mangrove planting activity, we visited Dabaso Primary School to distribute sanitary towels for the girls and inner wears for both girls and boys. Boxes and tons of pads were delivered.
Afterwards, we walked back towards Crabshack Dabaso for mangrove planting. For some of us who were in airtight closed shoes, we had to change into floater shoes and flip flops dipping our feet into slippery mud and shallow waters of mida creek ready for a mangrove adventure!
A mangrove is a salt-tolerant tree that primarily grows in a tropical and sub-tropical place along shores and rivers in salty water, muddy and waterlogged areas. Mangroves are essential in preservation and conservation of the environment, marine and human life that results to a Sustainable Blue Economy for current and future generations.
For instance, mangroves protect coral reefs from sedimentation, provide nursery beds for fish and a breeding area for fish, birds, reptiles and other local species. All which make food for human consumption, income for fishermen, offer employment opportunities in fisheries and eco-tourism for the local economy.
“The fisheries sector in Kenya, employs over 1 million people who are engaged in fishing, fish farming and other fisheries related activities such as processing, boat making and repairs.” Edward Kimakwa 2018.
Also, mangroves store up massive amount of carbon dioxide therefore contributing to climate change mitigation. They have a remarkable ability to cope with extraordinary level of stress hence buffering ecosystems against typhoons, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis and the like, as a result, protecting the coastal inhabitants. Certainly, our future is codependent on the survival of mangroves to preserve and improve our environment.~ Blue Economy Conference 2019
We then commenced our journey entering a small boat and dhows in turns admiring the breathtaking view of Mida Creek.
Arriving at the mangrove planting area, it was impossible to plant right away due to the intertwined mangrove roots.
In as much as they looked like total deal breakers, they actually increase stability in the soft sediments along shorelines and prevent salt to pass through its root membranes. The view was extremely horrific. Nevertheless, the idea of being clueless about what could be hiding in or below the water was terrifying, literally walking by faith. To conquer the roots, one had to carefully crawl on each while watching out for the killer sharp oyster shells that grow underneath the roots.
Eventually, after a proper work out session that involved heavy perspiration and panting, we landed on a spacious muddy spot for planting mangroves.
The mangrove viviparous seedlings a.k.a propagules that we held for planting are created that way so that when they fall they just automatically plant themselves. Its shoot which is thinner, faces upwards while its thicker root face downwards inserting it 5-6 centimeters deep into the muddy ground.
With much practice and team work, the mangrove planting mission was successful. Thankfully, the way out did not have much roots so it was easier walking through the knee-deep water straight towards the floating restaurant. Indeed, that felt rewarding knowing that each of us made a difference in preserving and conserving the environment and giving back to the community. Especially for first timers like me and other new volunteers.
For Rotaract Club of Malindi, it was their 4th mangrove planting success.
Mangrove planting doesn’t have to be as tedious for different venues offer different mangrove settings. A good example is the annual mangrove planting event served by Rotaract Club of Malindi two years ago at Robinson Crusoe Island – Seafood Feast. It was an open muddy field that didn’t involve any root climbing.
Here’s your chance to make a difference and experience mangrove planting with Rotaract Club of Malindi this Saturday for their 5th Annual Mangrove Planting. Details in the flyer below.