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KEFRI to Research Mangrove Pests

Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) scientists are investigating pests attacking mangrove trees along the Kenyan coastline. The pests have been identified as marine arthropods belonging to subphylum crustaceans commonly known as Barnacles which attacks mangroves.

The disease manifests with the leaves of the Mangrove trees turning from their natural bright green colour to light green and then brown after shrinking before finally drying up. The young trees on the other hand, dry up immediately after sprouting.

Speaking at Mida Creek on 3rd February 2021 during the World Wetlands Day celebrations, Environment and Forestry Chief Administrative Secretary Hon.Mohamed Elmi said thatthe research will help in singling out the cause of the infection and in turn lead to the cure. The pests have so faraffected Mangrove trees in Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu and Kwale counties.

Hon. Elmi pointed out that KEFRI scientists are expected to use their expertise and knowledge to ascertain the root cause of the disease and its management. “One mangrove is the equivalent of 10 trees in terms of carbon sequestration and as such it is imperative that we protect our mangroves,” he said.

KEFRI Director, Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo echoed the CAS comments and reported that the institute has employed four ecologists who will work in partnership with the Kenya Marine Research Institute (KEMFRI) on mangrove research. He further stated that apart from researching the pests and disease, they will also need to understand how climate change has affected marine life in the region.
Sabaki Estuary

“KEFRI is keen to ensure that two billion trees are planted by 2022 to meet the recommended 10 per cent forest cover for the country. We have already attained 7.2 per cent cover and will be planting 45 million seedlings in every county so as to meet the recommended 10 per cent cover,” he said.

Ms.Arafa Salim Baya, a community conservationist and patron of local women’s groups including BidiinaKazi based at Mida creek congratulated the Ministry of Environment through KEFRI adding that the community is hopeful that the scientists will find a lasting solution to eradicate the disease.

Dr. Cheboiwo was accompanied by KEFRI Board Chairman Dr. Sammy Latema, Board Member Ms. Maureen Mwangovya, Senior Deputy Director Research and Development Dr. Jane Njuguna, Deputy Director Corporate Affairs and Quality Assurance, Dr. Jackson Mulatya and staff from the Coast Eco-Region Research Pregramme - Gede, TaitaTaveta and Lamu Sub Centres.

The mangrove planting exercise which began in late January has so far seen approximately 40,000 seedlings planted and is set to continue with a target of 200,000seedlings by March 2021.

CAS Hon. Mohamed Elmi and Dr. Jane Njuguna planting mangroves along the Sabaki estuary

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