Report: Blue Carbon Project in Lamu, Kenya

by Marion Houdayer, Bernd Lenzner, Stefanie Löcherer


Mangroves fulfill important ecosystem services



CO2 is one of the major drivers of the global climate and plays a key role in the process of climate change. Therefore, understanding the mechanism of the global carbon cycle and examining the contributions of different ecosystems in this process is essential. Recently, the focus of attention has widened towards coastal ecosystems, comprising mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass meadows. These habitats cover only 2% of the worldwide ocean surface. But despite their small extent, they store up to 50% of the overall C that is sequestered by the oceans worldwide. Additionally, C is stored up to 100times faster than in terrestrial ecosystems and sequestration rates (139gC/m²*yr) exceed those of the tropical rainforests by up to 2-4 times.


Fig.1 : Carbon sequestration by different ecosystems (Murray et al. 2011)

Thus, being an important carbon sink, the degradation, especially of mangrove forests, can easily turn these areas into strong sources of carbon. It is estimated that about 10% of the overall carbon release from forest degradation comes from the loss of mangrove forests, showing the strong impact considering their spatial extent (UNEP 2009, Murray et al. 2011). Beneath their role for carbon sequestration, mangroves are essential to protect the shorelines from erosion and are a nursing home for many fish species (UNEP 2011).

The “Blue Carbon Initiative” emerged from this context and is mainly funded by Conservation International (CI), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The initiative focuses on conserving and restoring coastal ecosystems as a carbon sink to mitigate global change.

Project Description: Purpose and Need

Our project focuses on the Lamu district in Kenya, which is comprised of the three islands Lamu, Pate and Manda. This area encompasses 60% of Kenya’s overall mangrove cover and occupies an area of around 28 500ha. In the Lamu district, the mangrove ecosystems are mainly threatened by deforestation1, but also by the states’ construction plans for a new trade-port, together with an oil refinery and a transport hub. These activities would lead to the destruction of great parts of the northern coastline of Kenya. The country has developed different projects to restore and protect these ecosystems, e.g. by establishing regulations on mangrove cuts in the year 2000. Contributing to this development, our projects aims to establish strictly protected and sustainably managed mangrove areas in the Lamu district along the Kenyan coastline

Project Description: Management and Finance

The Lamu area would be managed by establishing zones with a specific protection status. Strictly protected “core areas” must not be harvested and would be used for locally managed eco-tourism and educational purposes. Meanwhile the local population is able to use the “managed areas” for sustainable fishery, wood harvesting etc. to secure their livelihood and to support and diversify their incomes. Furthermore, incomes from tourism will help local communities to manage and maintain the mangroves areas.

Another financial source to fund the project would be “Payments for Ecosystem Services” (PES), an economic instrument in environmental policy. Protecting the mangrove ecosystem can be translated into an economic value. Based on a study from UNEP in Gazy Bay (Kenya) in 2011, the total economic value of a mangrove ecosystem can reach US$ 1.000/ha/y. This value is comprised of the “direct use value” of the mangroves, e.g. from the benefits of economic activities like fishery, wood extraction, eco-tourism, etc. Another aspect is the “indirect use value”, which is considering the avoided costs which would arise in case of natural hazards such as erosion, flooding, carbon sequestration, etc. which would occur if mangrove systems are destroyed. Finally, protecting the mangrove would preserve the “non-use value”, which estimates the cultural, heritage, aesthetic and landscape value of the area.

Due to the high carbon sequestration potential of mangroves, our “Blue-Carbon” project aims at selling CO2 emission off-set certificates to private persons and possibly to companies or even nations in future2. The objective of the first step is to encourage travelers to obtain carbon neutral journeys by paying for their travel emissions. The revenue would help to sustainably manage the mangroves in future.

Social Perspective: Joint decision making and ecotourism


Sailing in Dhows, traditional vessels in the Indian Ocean, is very popular among Lamu tourists (

Our project will as well to incorporate the different local communities into the implementation and decision making process. A prerequisite to achieve this bottom-up approach is the implementation of workshops. It would allow the consultation, involvement and integration of the different communities who are depending on the mangroves as a resource which is essential for their livelihood. They would help to incorporate the local perspective into the project before its implementation and during all phases to come. It is vital to have the full acceptance of our project and the idea of nature conservation in this area, because only this can make the outcomes continuous.

The Blue Carbon Project is also encouraging locals to involve in eco-tourism. The Lamu district already has a good tourism infrastructure and a good reputation for its scenic beauty. Offering activities like guided wildlife tours, kayaking, snorkeling, bird watching as well as cultural events will enable the local communities to connect to the project and diversify their income. By lowering their dependence on primary resources their livelihoods will become more resilient. This in turn will lead to a reduction of the pressure on mangroves in terms of their current overexploitation.

Additionally we seek to extend the UNESCO World Heritage status by the mangrove areas. The old town of Lamu is already designated as World Heritage because of its cultural richness. Combining it with the ecological richness would result in a legal protection of the entire bio-cultural heritage.


Fig.2 : Management and financial flows of the Lamu Blue Carbon Project (own illustration)


Blue Carbon Projects can play an important role in mitigating climate change. The Lamu Blue Carbon Project would protect mangroves, which are highly threatened but on the other hand vital for provisioning ecosystem services. Local communities strongly depend on their resources but need alternative income sources. Our project would combine a carbon off-setting with sustainable nature conservation and resilience-building for the local livelihoods.


Murray, Brian, Linwood Pendleton, W. Aaron Jenkins, and Samantha Sifleet. 2011. Green Payments for Blue Carbon: Economic Incentives for Protecting Threatened Coastal Habitats. Nicholas Institute Report. NI R 11-04.

UNEP Divisions of Publication and Public Information 2010. Annual Report 2009 – Seizing the Green Opportunity. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP, 2011: Economic Analysis of Mangrove Forests: A case study in Gazi Bay, Kenya, UNEP, iii+42 pp.

1 for fuel wood or for construction purposes

2 A possibility would be to incorporate the „Blue Carbon“ initiative into the REDD-project or the carbon off-sets from mangrove ecosystems into the global Carbon Emission trade.

Tiger reserve in Myanmar

By Stephanie Mayer, Ervin Kosatica and Laura Hellmund




Tigers have been a target of human hunters for centuries and currently the vast majority of tigers poached is for traditional Chinese medicine “cures”. Numbers of tigers have reached a historical low of 3200 animals with only 1000 breeding females in 2010 according to a report by World Conservation Society securing their status of an endangered species (Walston et al., 2010). Tigers are top predators and a flagship species in the areas they inhabit, they require large habitat area, ranging from 10-50 km2 depending on prey availability (Lynam, 2003). In recent years the country in Myanmar there has been a great push for their protection, in 2003 the country created the National Tiger Action Plan (Lynam, 2003) and in 2010 world’s largest tiger reserve was established in Hukaung Valley.

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Spatial pattern of white stork migration in Germany

Spatial pattern of white stork migration  in Germany

by Mary Antonette Beroya-Eitner, Lukas Prey, Vadym Sokol
Modelling project for the course “Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions” within the study program “Global Change Ecology”



The spatial pattern of migration of white storks is dependent on a number environmental conditions. This study aims to investigate the influence of land cover types and different climatic variables on such pattern for three migration stages (forage, roosting and nesting) based on the migration route data of an individual stork tracked by GPS. Corine land cover map and WorldClim data were used for this purpose. Analyses were mainly done in R. Results show that white storks  nest in rural, mainly agricultural areas, but stay in or close to urban areas for roosting and forage during roosting. As regards the influence of the climatic conditions, results reveal that the precipitation of the wettest month is the most important variable for all the different migration stages.  Application of different models yields different prediction maps. In general, the generalized additive model (GAM) tends to identify more potential sites while the random forest tends to identify lesser number of potential sites.

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Modelling plant species richness in the Bavarian Forest

Modelling plant species richness of a temperate forest ecosystem in the Bavarian Forest

Global Change Ecology – B7

Lukas Prey

Scope and Methods: Since its establishment, the National Park Bavarian Forest in south-east Germany aimed at protecting the habitat of a multitude of species from nocuous human influences. Yet, it is still discussed in which manner to foster high species richness through national park management. In other places, ecological conditions have to be analysed prior to the declination of nature protection zones. Depending on site conditions, species richness can differ substantially (Fig. 1). In the following, the influence of a number of ecological parameters on the plant species richness is analysed by using data that was collected along the south- facing slope of the Rachel Mountain. 193 different species were counted in 115 study plots in two concentric hexagons with the outer one having a maximum diameter of 8m (Table 2). For species frequency, species were not double-counted within the study plots. Analysis was done in the program R. For a pre-assessment, the influence of the forest structure was examined using LIDAR-data for 36 of the plots. However, only the mean canopy height was found to be significantly correlated with the species richness on a 10% level, yet with a very low R2 (Fig.2 a). It was hypothesized that plant leaf indices as surrogates for the coverage and content of photosynthetic compounds could correlate with species richness through the putative negative influence of shadowing by high canopy vegetation on the generally species-rich herb and shrub layer. Three indices were included in the model: the NDLI as a lignin index, the LCI as a chlorophyll index and the CRI 550 as a carotenoid index (Gitelson et al., 2002). In the case of the NDLI, it was expected to represent the tree cover which also has a crucial influence on shadowing, nutrient competition and growth factor seasonality. A glm was run using 13 explaining variables for species richness. Furthermore due to lack of data for other variables, a spatial subset was used for predicting the potential species richness based on the plant leaf indices.

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Potential habitats of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the western part of central Africa according to prevalent environmental conditions and anthropogenic influence


Potential habitats of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the western part of central Africa according to prevalent environmental conditions and anthropogenic influence

By Marco Brendel, Wanda Graf, Juliana Kehrer

within the module B5 Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions (Masters Program Global Change Ecology)


1.      Introduction

Movement paths by terrestrial herbivores came into focus of recent ecological research, as these animals are globally increasingly threatened. For habitat protection and species conservation their spatial behaviour is an essential factor. In course of this research project the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), one of the main objectives in ecological studies about endangered species, is regarded (Bindi et al. 2011, Dolmia et al. 2007, Grant et al. 2007, DeKnegt et al. 2011, Wall et al. 2012). Populations of the Loxodonta africana can especially be found in the western part of central Africa, where it is severely endangered by poachers hunting for ivory, and faced with a steady loss and fragmentation of its habitats. Several recent cases of illegal killing of the elephants especially in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in Central African Republic show the necessity of expanding its security (Wall et al. 2012). On the basis of their current distribution, potential habitats of elephants in the western part of central Africa have been assessed due to prevalent environmental conditions and anthropogenic influence. Their movement behaviour and habitat preferences are defined by a short distance to roads, as elephants use roads as moving corridors (Douglas-Hamilton et al. 2005). Moreover their habitat use increases with proximity to available water (Harris et al. 2008). Their habitats are determined by a low anthropogenic influence and a high proportion of vegetation (Harris et al. 2008). For the species distribution modelling the algorithms “randomForest”, “tree”, as well as “rpart” were utilized in the programming language R!. In a later step the results might be a basis for indentifying new areas of prospective national parks to ensure the survival of the endangered African elephant.

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Species distribution modeling of larch in the European Alps in the face of climate change

by Jürgen Knauer and Tobias SiegLarix_decidua

project in Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions, within the study program Global Change Ecology, University of Bayreuth.




Future projections of climate warming propose substantial changes especially in high altitude ecosystems such as the Alps. Especially the tree line regions as climatically-determined ecotones are regarded to react sensitively to altered temperature regimes (Gehrig-Fasel et al. 2007). Potential impacts include structural changes of tree composition, a rise of the alpine tree line, and altered species composition mainly due to rising temperatures, but also due to other climatic as well as edaphic and topographic factors (Gehrig-Fasel et al. 2007; Theurillat & Guisan 2001). The project presented here was an attempt to model the current and projected distribution of larch (Larix decidua) in the Alps using the entropy model MaxEnt and the IPCC-SRES emission scenario A1B for the time periods 2040-2050 and 2070-2080. According to recent findings we expect a distinguishable shift in the distribution of larch towards higher altitudes. The aims of the project were therefore to assess potential altitudinal as well as geographical changes in the distribution of larch over time as a response to climatic and topographic variables.

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Species Distribution Modelling to show Potential Distribution of Fagus Sylvatica 2013 and Prediction for 2050 and 2080

Global Change Ecology (GCE) seminar on species modelling using remote sensing, Summer 2013

A contribution by the GCE students: Dominik Wiehl, Moses John Duguru, Michaela Deininger



Our study was carried out on the common beech tree (Fagus sylvatica) due to its outstanding importance in central Europe. It is the most abundant tree species in Europe and not only a relevant key species to conservationists but also for foresters. It stands out by its wide distribution and, furthermore, by its  crucial role as a carbon sink. Knowledge of the distribution of Fagus Sylvatica is incomplete, but nevertheless quite profound, ranging from complete atlases and several scientific papers to databases. The distribution of this species is scientifically demonstrated to be mostly driven by the climate components precipitation and temperature (Ellenberg 1996). In the face of climate change, it is very likely that there will be a mostly northward shift of higher temperatures and precipitation patterns to higher latitude regions (EPA, 2013). As a consequence, it is also expected that several species which favour warmer temperatures and high precipitation will follow this patterns by migration.  We focused on the values of average monthly precipitation of July and January(summer and winter )averages respectively, as well as on average temperatures of these two months. An inspection of the collinearity has proven these environmental variables to be crucial for the occurence of Fagus Sylvatica since they represent annual minimun and maximum values.

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New Marine Protected Area in open ocean nearby Hawaii – determine best location, best shape and best management strategy for long term success

Why implementing an MPA?

This is probably one of the most important questions conservationists have to answer. According to Airame et al. (2003), “marine reserves not only provide a means of establishing sustainable fisheries and long term economic viability, but also contribute to the conservation of habitats and unexploited species, while providing opportunities for marine research and education.” In a nutshell: the aim of such a reserve is to maximize ecological, economic, and cultural benefits and to enhance educational and research opportunities.

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Reintroducing the character species Scimitar Oryx to West Africa

The Scimitar-horned Oryx is according to the red list of the IUCN a mammal, which is claimed “extinct in the wild” since 2000. Until the late 1980s at least some animals survived in the wild of Chad and Niger. Originally they lived in habitats across Africa in the semiarid and arid regions of the Sahara desert. This species is nearly extinct due to extensive hunting for its horn and meat. Capturing some of the animals in the mid-1960s secured its survival at least in captivity. Since then some reintroductions to Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia into fenced and protected areas have successfully taken place. Taking into consideration, that it is a migratory browsing species, releasing it to the wild would be necessary to lead it back to natural population.

Reintroducing Scimitar Oryx into its original habitat would not only bring a beautiful highly adapted animal back into wildlife. Furthermore it is an icon for this region and therefore connected with regional pride and emotional importance for local people.

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A Sustainable Implementation Plan For REDD In The Arusha National Park

Arusha NP was founded in 1960 as the Ngurdoto Crater NP and in 1967 it was enlarged to the area of Mount Meru. The park is proximate to Arusha town, with a population of 1.694.310, which leads to several land use conflicts and other human impacts the natural environment is exposed to (see City Population, 2012). Current land use belongs to forestry, nature conservation, recreation/tourism and water management. The impacts are wide spread and of high environmental risk due to enclosed agriculture and population growth. An increase in food demand through rising population may lead to an amplification of the spatial pressure. Moreover, the environmental threats are strongly correlated with agriculture because the Mormella Lakes are affected by chemicals of the surrounding farms that are introduced due to high surface run-off (see BirdLife International, 2013).

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