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Exploitation of mangroves from a subsistence perspective. Case study: Mida Creek
Mathenge, C. (1998). Exploitation of mangroves from a subsistence perspective. Case study: Mida Creek. MSc Thesis. VUB: Brussel. 59 pp.

Thesis info:

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Document type: Dissertation

    ISW, Kenya, Mida Creek [Marine Regions]
    Marine/Coastal; Brackish water

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  • Mathenge, C.

    As we strive towards a highly monetarized global economy, choices of investments are being made based on economic efficiency. Mangrove forests are being largely converted into aquaculture farms or being cut for poles export. To arrest the situation policies are sometimes made that have far reaching effects on indiginous communities. This study looked at communities living around Mida creek on the Kenyan coast; communities that have lived besides mangroves for many generations, visiting them frequently to make use of the resource, a level of exploitation that could go on perpetually. However the local communities are not the only interested parties in the resource and some form of control on harvesting activities has to be put in place. The study managed to establish a framework of dependency on the mangrove resource by indiginous communities, with precise data on Mida creek communities. Intensive interactions were observed all around the creek area. Some of the uses of mangroves includes making fire wood, charcoal, furniture, poles for house construction, timber for boat building, fishing traps, boat parts, paddles, oars, door and window frames, cooking utensils, board games, insecticides, dyes, drums, beehives, fencing posts and traditional medicine and ointments. The most significant use of mangrove is poles for house construction. Three species, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Ceriops tagal and Rhizophora mucronata are especially favoured, each with its special quality and thus for a particular section of the house. Rhizophora mucronata lasts longer in the soil and is used on the walls supports. Bruguiera gymnorrhiza rots easily in the soil but is excellent in the roof tops. Ceriops tagal is flexible and at the same time strong and is woven in and out to make the walls. To acquire the poles one can either buy them from a trader, from a professional mangrove cutter or can obtain a permit and harvest the poles by himself. Some illegal harvesting was also noted. Once the houses are built, they last between 1 and 30 years before collpasing thus requiring to be built afresh. Factors influencing the duration a house lasts include quality of poles used, quality of craftmanship, drainage of site house is built on, materials used to fill in the gaps between poles in the walls and type of floor.The communities on Mida creek are to a large extent still traditional but some of their customs and traditions are changing as a result of difficulties in accessing the mangrove resource. Customs of house sharing are being compromised as families can no longer afford to buy poles to build more houses. As restrictions in the forest area increase they are turning to other materials (plastics) to substitute for the mangrove that is no longer easily accessible. As a result the customs and traditions may soon be lost completely. Work remains to be done on quantifying permanently needed resources and extrapolating future demand, so as to come up with a sound forestry management scheme that will ensure sustainable harvesting and at the same time allowing local indiginous communities to continue their customs and practises thus preventing loss of heritage that may prove irrecoverable.

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