By Michael Muratha
Mangrove forests along the Kenya coast cover approximately 60,645ha along the 536km long coastline extending from Kenya-Tanzania border in the south to the Kenya-Somalia border to the north. These mangrove forests are mainly located in tidal estuaries, creeks and protected bays. Mangroves forests offer a range of benefits and opportunities to both local and national economic development, improved livelihoods and provision of environmental goods and services such as habitat for fish and other wildlife, shoreline protection, and carbon sequestration.
Mangrove forests in Kenya however suffer from a number of threats arising from both anthropogenic as well as natural factors. These threats include illegal cutting, illegal settlements, pollution, conversion into other land uses etc. To regain the county’s mangrove forest, KFS has acquired two state of the art patrol boats for ease deployment of KFS Rangers who provide protection of mangrove forests. The boats have a capacity of 8 people each and can patrol on open sea as well as the creeks where the forests are located.
KFS has deployed these boast as follow -MV MISITU to patrol the 37,000 ha of mangroves in Lamu, while MV HIFADHI will cover Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale. So far the boats have been operating very well and have assisted in movement of rangers to hotspots and recovery of illegally cut materials. The boats are also to assist in deterring other criminal activities within mangrove areas such as illegal production of local brews, assist in emergencies as well as enable KFS partner with other agencies operating similar vessels in the coast. In future the Service intends to have a fully fledged Marine unit.
One of the Kenya Forest Service patrol boats acquired