Mangroves and coastal conservation

We work not only to stop mangrove deforestation but to actually reverse their loss, through the restoration of these unique and productive coastal forests. We engage communities, governments and private sector to halt negative impacts, introduce sustainable production techniques and develop national and regional policies and action plans for their conservation.

The problem

Worldwide half of mangrove forests have been lost in the past sixty years, with one-fifth since the 1980s. Shrimp aquaculture, the largest cause in Asia and Latin America, is now also introduced in East Africa fueling its deforestation rate, which has been 8% in the past decades. In west and central Africa some 20-30% of the mangroves have been lost in the past 25 years. Threats vary per country, but the largest are man-made: urbanisation and urban infrastructure development, clearing for military operations, salt and sand extraction, industrial pollution, but also mangrove cutting for firewood and conversion into rice fields.

What we do

We support communities to restore and better manage their mangroves. First of all, we enable the restoration of degraded mangrove forests by help villagers to replant the mangroves. Secondly, we make sure they are managed more sustainably, by reducing the causes of deforestation. These causes vary throughout West Africa. In Guinea Bissau we helped to restore rice fields by building dikes and canals to restore the hydrology. This meant that no new mangroves need to be cut down to create new rice fields.

In Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone we introduced sustainable production techniques to smoking fish and salt production, which lead to reduced need for mangrove firewood. These improved fish smoking ovens use six times less fire wood. The solar salt production actually needs no fire wood at all and has higher and purer yield of salt.

Regional and national policies and plans

We brought the governments of six West African countries (Mauritania, Cabo Verde, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry) together to sign the Mangrove Charter and Action Plans. Now we help these governments to develop and implement national policies and action plans for the protection of existing mangrove forests as well as the restoration of degraded ones.

Global policy work

We promote mangrove restoration as part of adapting to climate change strategies at the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund Board. First step is the assuring that all Adaptation Fund projects have an environmental impact assessment in place, so that they do not harm mangroves. Next step is to get mangroves important in their adaptation strategies.

In addition, we have joined the Blue Carbon Group that is developing policy recommendations and incentives for the UNFCCC for the conservation of coastal areas that include mangroves and tidal flats. As part of the global network of Wetlands International, we contribute to innovative approaches to coastal defense, such as hybrid engineering.



Richard DaCosta

Project Officer

E-mail: rdacosta @

Phone: +221 33 869 16 81


  • We have restored thousands of hectares of mangrove areas worldwide, but also in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia on the African continent
  • Our advocacy work led to a Mangrove Charter and National Action Plans for West Africa: an agreement and commitment to action by six countries to conserve and restore their mangrove belts.
  • In Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone, we provided tools for solar salt production and improved fish smoking practices to reduce the use of mangrove trees for firewood. Solar salt technique prevents the cutting of mangrove firewood for salt water boiling and results in a higher quality product. The improved fish smoking ovens use six times less firewood per kilo of smoked fish.
  • Other organisations, such as FAO, have started to promote these sustainable production the region
  • The Yawri Bay has been designated as the first Marine Protected Area by the Sierra Leone government
  • To reduce overfishing we provided Yawri Bay communities with alternative livelihoods, such as agriculture and animal husbandry