Designing a mangrove research and demonstration forest in the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania

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Despite the growing body of literature on science and management of mangroves, there is a considerable knowledge gap and uncertainty at local levels regarding the carbon pool size, variability of carbon sequestration and carbon stocks within mangrove forests, mechanisms that control carbon emissions from degradation of mangrove forests, impacts of conversion to other land uses, challenges and opportunities associated with restoration practices and sustainability of ecosystem services. These concerns are valid globally, but they are particularly important in Africa due to limited research that has been conducted in the continent. The USDA Forest Service (USFS) and the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) have completed comprehensive studies on mangrove carbon in the South East Asia (SEA) and the Oceania (Donato and others 2011, Kauffman and others 2011) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP). By drawing from the reported findings, lessons and experiences from SWAMP, inter-agency consortiums of academic and research institutions and conservation non-governmental organizations in Tanzania and Mozambique, with technical support from the USFS Center for Forested Wetlands Research and financial assistance of the USAID Africa Bureau, are developing the East Africa Mangrove Carbon Project (EAMCP). This initiative intends to support capacity development, advance scientific knowledge, and improve data collection in the areas of measurement and monitoring of carbon stocks and the impact of utilization and degradation in mangrove forests. Ultimately, EAMCP aims to provide scientific information and capacity to inform effective policy and management actions for the secured future of mangroves in East Africa. The consortium in Tanzania is utilizing the EAMCP opportunity to establish a mangrove research and demonstration forest in the Rufiji Delta (MRDF). This facility will be officially designated and sanctioned within the administering government agency, the Tanzania Forestry Service (TFS). The designation will entail recognition of the will entail recognition of the site as a special use area, where activities are aimed at research, demonstration, and training for capacity development of academic and scientific community, practitioners and managers, and communities.

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