In early 2015, CORDIO conducted an assessment of the biodiversity of near-shore and pelagic marine habitats of Lamu-Kiunga seascape; their use and benefits to people; drivers and pressures of biodiversity loss and opportunities for improved management. This was motivated by an ICRAF-led project funded by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for the Horn of Africa (IGAD), which aimed at compiling and synthesizing information on marine biodiversity. Additional funding from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) enabled the survey of coral reefs and mangroves from Pate Island to Kiunga. A working paper on this is now out.
The study found rare and endemic coral (Siderastrea savignyana, Horastrea indica, Caulastrea connata) and fish (Apolemichthys xanthotis) species. The seascape also stands tall with a composite of other outstanding universal values composed of diverse ecosystems, connectivity with Gulf of Aden, a rich cultural heritage and an oceanographic regime influenced by Somali current.
Increased human population, high poverty levels, clay mining for pottery, land tenure and deforestation of mangroves are the main threats to marine biodiversity. Indeed the cover of this mangrove-rich seascape has reduced by up to 22% over the last two decades. In response to these threats, public and civil institutions have engaged in providing solutions including enactment of legislations and adoption of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) also termed community conservancies.
It is envisioned that this report will not only act as a conduit in the integration of science, practice and governance at local level, but will also stimulate feedback from the scientific community and feed positively to IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme (BMP) on fostering poverty alleviation through better environmental integration across the region.