Earthwatch scientist Dr. Mark Huxham studies ecosystem functions and fish community structure and manages a major coastal mangrove restoration in Kenya.
Why study mangroves?
Says Dr. Huxham: “My background is in marine and theoretical ecology. Like many other academic ecologists, I have become increasingly concerned about how we can use science to answer real questions of major importance to people, especially those who rely most directly on natural resources. This, combined with the fantastic opportunity to collaborate with people from Kenya and around the globe in a fascinating environment, is why I am working on this project.”
Why local communities matter:
“We believe that the surest route to successful mangrove conservation is to give local people direct benefits from our activities. They will then protect their mangroves,” Dr. Huxham told Earthwatch. “Our research and restoration activities must therefore blend scientific excellence with equal measures of community benefits.”
With support from the community and Earthwatch volunteers, twenty thousand mangrove trees have been planted in Gazi Bay since 2004. Dr. Huxham and his team have trained postgraduate students and scientists from the area, as well as from further afield - Madagascar, Tanzania, and Mozambique - on procedures and protocols of mangrove reforestation and monitoring. Two Ph.D. students have been completely funded through the project.