The WIO coral reef Red List of Ecosystems study sets the stage for national assessments in Kenya

As a follow up to the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) assessment, CORDIO plans to work with national partners to develop needs-based coral reef assessments to inform coral reef management and policy in three focus countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique. The assessments will help prioritize areas for effective management actions that can support reef and community resilience.

The first workshop for this national process for Kenya was held virtually on 9 September 2020 to introduce and discuss the initiative with coral reef stakeholders from Kenya, including representatives from the research and scientific community, conservationists, resource managers and government officials. The workshop was attended by 43 participants, the majority of whom believe that Kenyan reefs are in declining health, but that it is still feasible to reverse the trend (response from poll question).

The 2-hour workshop included 3 presentations followed by group discussions, interspersed with polls and questionnaires to elicit essential feedback from participants. The first presentation by Dr David Obura presented some of the key findings relevant to Kenya from the regional WIO coral reef RLE assessment, which was completed in May.

This was followed by a presentation by Mishal Gudka which provided an overview of the plans for the national reef assessment approach. During the presentation, he encouraged stakeholders to participate in the initiative, “at different stages, we see an opportunity for this to be very collaborative and involve different stakeholder groups.” The presentation was followed by poll questions, which suggest that most respondents would prefer the assessment to focus on identifying areas with high biodiversity, high socio-economic value, and areas of importance as sources and sinks and high connectivity reefs.

The third presentation was given by Paul Gacheru from Nature Kenya, giving a brief overview of the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) approach, and how it can be applied to identify KBAs in the Kenya coastal and marine sector.

The workshop then had a brief breakout session for groups to explore one of four issues related to the project: (1) a national coral reef database, (2) socio-economic and resource-use information, (3) management interventions, and (4) policy and legislative processes. Below are some of the key points from the discussions:

National coral reef database

It will help to identify gaps, provide data security and ensure that baseline information is preserved and ready to be used in the event of an emergency, as well as reduce data redundancy and duplication.

Socio-economic and resource-use information

Particularly important in informing management as well as research needs. It is also important in understanding perceptions of the local resource users involved in coral reefs.

Management interventions

Several management interventions are currently ongoing or planned, with the goal of either preventing the current decline/degradation of coral reefs or improving the status of coral reefs. However, most of them need to be strengthened.

Policy and legislative processes

Relevant national processes include the revision of the Coral Reef and Seagrass Strategy, the ICZM Action Plan, the fisheries policy in relation to the Beach Management Units (BMUs) and co-management aspects, the National and County Marine Spatial Planning processes and international commitments, such as the conventions on biological diversity (CBD) and climate change (UNFCCC) and their reporting processes (NBSAPs and NDCs, respectively).

The project will take place from 2020-2023, with most of the quantitative analysis and research undertaken in the first year, followed by efforts to integrate findings into relevant management and policy frameworks. We will continue our strategic engagement with stakeholders following the workshop.

The Workshop Report is available here.

Contact Mishal Gudka at mgudka [at] for more information or visit the project home page. to learn more about the initiative.