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Earthwatch at 50: Caroline Wanjiru's story

Mangroves are one of the world’s most complex and crucial habitats. As well as storing huge amounts of carbon, they provide a nursery home for juvenile fish populations to thrive.

Caroline Wanjiru set out to find out how the quality of mangrove forests around Vanga on Kenya’s south coast impacts their fish populations, in an Earthwatch-supported study that formed part of her wider PhD.

“Despite the critical role mangroves play, these forests suffer widespread and continuing degradation and removal. The causal links between forest size and quality and fisheries provision remain poorly understood.”

This means that mangrove conservation is often not included in official policy, so getting local people and locally-focused institutions on board with conservation schemes is essential.

Caroline found that despite the large variations in both number of species and abundance between mangrove sites, those variations didn’t seem to correlate with the quality of the mangrove forests. It opened up a whole new project for Caroline, who will turn next to examining the wider seascape characteristics around the sites, to find out more about what does impact the fish populations. This could have major implications for future mangrove conservation efforts.

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