US Forest Service | May 2014
InterWorks designed and conducted a Regional West Africa Mangroves and Climate Change Experts Workshop held May 18 – 22, 2014 in Elmina, Ghana for 46 participants from various governmental, non-governmental and regional international organizations.
Mangrove forests and associated coastal environments provide ecosystem goods and services that support the livelihoods of millions of people in the tropics and sub-tropics. In the context of climate change mitigation, the role of mangroves as carbon sinks has become more apparent, as knowledge about their carbon sequestration capacity – they sequester about five times more carbon per unit area than any other forest ecosystem – is better understood. However, carbon pools of coastal wetlands including mangroves, also known as “Blue Carbon”, are poorly understood at present and their potential for contributing to REDD+ are underestimated or not estimated at all in national REDD+ strategies. In addition, healthy mangrove ecosystems are of critical importance to coastal climate change adaptation strategies in the tropics.
Based on the above background the USAID/West Africa Mission, in collaboration with the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC) program and the US Forest Service, along with partners United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), organized and sponsored this workshop to assess the status of mangrove knowledge and capacity in West Africa. The workshop provided increased awareness among policy makers, researchers and practitioners on the important role of mangroves in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the social and economic opportunities provided by of mangroves. Participants and resource persons identified practical options to more explicitly integrate mangrove ecosystems into national REDD+ strategies as well as regional collaboration on issues central to maximizing climate and other benefits from mangrove and coastal ecosystems. The workshop included a one-day field trip to Anlo Beach village to see their community-based mangrove restoration program and how it was integrating into the livelihoods aspects of the community.