Coastal Ecosystem Services for East Africa


  • Professor Mark Huxham, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Professor Hilary Kennedy and Dr Martin Skov, University of Bangor
  • Dr Fiona Nunan, University of Birmingham
  • Dr James Gitundu Kairo and Caroline Wanjiro, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
  • Dr Caroline Upton, University of Leicester
  • Dr Narriman Jiddawi and Dr Mwita Mangora, Institute of Marine Science, University of Dar es Salaam


ESRC/NERC/DFID Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation

Project aims

There are few coastal-based Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes in the developing world, yet they have the potential to contribute to localised poverty reduction, coastal protection and conservation and carbon storage, thereby presenting an opportunity for a ‘triple-win’ development-adaptation-mitigation mechanism. This project drew on previous research experience, including from Swahili Seas, to find ways to increase the number of communities that can benefit from PES schemes and the range of ecosystems and ecosystem services that can be protected. A key concern in seeking to upscale pro-poor coastal PES schemes was the need to identify and understand potential barriers and supporting mechanisms within different levels of governance. The research was undertaken in Kenya and Zanzibar, and focused on mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

The project had three workstreams, addressing the following questions:

  • How can the meso-level institutions essential in facilitating community-based schemes be supported in assisting them? What are the current barriers and the opportunities for change?
  • How can mangrove based PES schemes be extended to include contiguous and ecologically integrated seagrass ecosystems, to improve their scope, security and ecological realism?
  • How do governance arrangements influence how mangrove forests and seagrass beds are managed and how can the role of seagrass meadows and mangrove forests in addressing multiple dimensions of poverty (including income and voice) be made more resilient and prevent movement into, or deepening of, poverty?

More information about the project can be found here:

Analysing multi-level governance of renewable natural resources

In June 2016, Dr Nunan was awarded additional funding from ESPA to build on the research undertaken by CESEA to date by bringing in more attention to the multi-level governance of coastal ecosystems. CESEA research had focused more at the local level and then at the forestry sector at the national and sub-national levels. The additional funding paid for further interviews and workshops in Kenya and Zanzibar to learn from other sectors within and beyond government – such as fisheries, land, environment, tourism and planning – in terms of how actors work together within and across administrative levels. The workshops focused on identifying opportunities for and challenges to taking a more integrated, coordinated approach to the governance of renewable natural resources within and across levels – local, sub-national (e.g. district and county) and national.

Information about the workshops in Kenya can be found in a blog written for the ESPA programme and two research briefs have been written to provide a guide for mapping and analysing the multi-level governance landscape of coastal ecosystems in Kenya and Zanzibar.


Nunan, F. (2018) Navigating multi-level natural resource governance: an analytical guideNatural Resources Forum, online first.