Mangrove forests in a peri-urban setting: the case of Mombasa (Kenya)

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The structure and regeneration patterns of the peri-urban mangrove vegetation of Mombasa at Tudor creek were studied along belt transects at two forest sites of Kombeni and Tsalu. Based on the species importance values, the dominant mangrove species were Rhizophora mucronata Lam. (Rhizophoraceae) and Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. (Avicenniaceae). Lumnitzera racemosa Willd., reported in an earlier floristic survey, was not encountered. Tree density varied from 1,264 trees ha-1 at Kombeni to 1,301 trees ha-1 at Tsalu and mean tree height was higher at the former site compared to the latter. The size-class structure at both localities showed the numerical dominance of small trees over larger trees. The spatial distribution pattern of adults and juveniles varied greatly between sites and showed a close to uniform pattern (Morisita's Index Iδ ≤ 1) for adult trees, but a tendency to clustered distribution (Iδ ≥ 1) for juveniles. The present paper shows that unmanaged but exploited peri-urban mangroves are structurally stressed, having enlarged canopy gaps that are characterised by spatial and temporal site heterogeneity that influences regeneration, implying longer periods for canopy closure. Diversifying uses of mangrove products and establishing reserves as no cut zones with regulated harvesting will minimise canopy gap sizes, and promote conservation practices. The proposed management strategy shall boost the ecosystem resilience to both anthropogenic and natural stressors expected in the peri-urban setting in the long run.

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