The Sazani Trust is protecting mangrove and seagrass reserves in Zanzibar through community coastal management and livelihood programs supporting adaptation for climate change.
Blue forests are ecosystems made up of mangroves, seagrass beds and saltmarshes which provide vital resources for coastal communities throughout the tropics, including Zanzibar, who are among the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change.
The blue forests protect against coastal erosion, regulate water quality, provide a breeding ground and habitat for countless marine species and supply food and raw materials for local livelihoods. In addition, blue forests sequester 6 times more carbon per unit area than undisturbed tropical rainforest.
Despite only making up 3% of the worlds terrestrial forest cover, 55% of all carbon captured in forests across the globe is blue carbon. However, blue forest ecosystems in Zanzibar are under threat from deforestation and degradation resulting from unsustainable resource extraction, primarily for fuel wood collection.
Despite new legislation, without strengthening local mechanisms for governing mangrove and sea grass reserves communities driven by urgent necessity will continue to over exploit and destroy the remnants of these two habitats.
The Sazani Trust, working with coastal communities in the semi-autonomous government of Zanzibar, aims to establish a system of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) for avoiding deforestation, the prevention of the destruction of sea grass meadows, the strengthening of local land tenure and rights over marine resources all underpinned through a program of sustainable livelihoods development.
As well as reducing carbon emissions and conserving biodiversity, this project will help to alleviate poverty and increase community resilience in a region under threat from climate change.