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Public awareness, key to mangrove management and conservation: the case of Zanzibar

Shunula, Jude
Trees 2002 v.16 no.2-3 pp. 209-212
control methods, ecosystems, fish, fisheries, livelihood, ownership, participatory management, people, planning, streams, vegetation, wood products, Zanzibar
The mangrove vegetation occupies a key position in the livelihood of the people of Zanzibar. About 45% of the total population live along the coast and the majority are involved in the extraction of mangrove wood products and fishing. Between 80% and 90% of the local fishing is concentrated in waters close to mangrove-vegetated areas, creeks and bays. The area under mangrove vegetation, approximately 20,000 ha, is nevertheless only 6% of the total land area and necessarily needs to be used in a sustainable way. Recent efforts to link research findings from studies of aspects of the biology and ecology of the mangroves of Zanzibar and the dependent fisheries, with public awareness programs designed to educate and sensitize the local community, have generated a lot of positive interest in participatory management of the mangrove resources. Awareness of the ecological links between mangrove ecosystems and resources such as fish is key to winning management support. The instillation of a sense of ownership of the resources by the local population and their legal empowerment so that they are able to institute and execute control measures on their resources are also essential components in the process aimed at achieving full community support for the sustainable utilization and management of common resources. Local communities, for example at Kisakasaka village, are beginning to protect and to plan better ways of exploiting their mangrove resources. Based on biological knowledge gleaned through awareness campaigns, they are carrying out mangrove restoration programs with positive results. This short overview discusses some aspects of the biology and ecological roles of the mangroves of Zanzibar and what has happened to help change the attitude of the local coastal community towards the mangrove resources.