The African Forest Forum (AFF) has implemented a project on “Strengthening management and use of forest ecosystems for sustainable development in Africa”. The project aimed to sustainably
manage forest resources in Africa in a way that enhances ecosystem goods and services through sustainable land management (SLM) approaches and practices. In respect to mangrove forests,
which receive particular attention in this report, the overall aim was to assess SLM approaches and practices in order to inform the adoption of land use systems that enable land users to maximize the economic, social, and ecological benefits from the land while protecting mangrove ecosystems in the Eastern Africa. Specifically, the following tasks were implemented: (i) to identify and document land management approaches and practices, including policies, institutions and legal measures guiding them, applied in mangrove forest areas; (ii) to assess the sustainability of promising land management approaches and practices identified under no. 1 above; (iii) to evaluate the potential of the identified land management approaches and practices under no. 2 above, in terms of their compatibility with (a) the development of forests and (b) protection of forests and (c) development and protection of trees outside forests; (iv) to assess the extent to which forest stakeholders are incorporating the identified SLM approaches and practices in their forest plans and activities; (v) to assess gender roles in protecting forest lands and adoption of appropriate SLM approaches and practices in mangrove forests; and (vi) to identify institutional, policy, legal mechanisms, and other aspects that can be employed to enhance protection of mangrove forest lands in the study areas. Data for the study were specifically collected in three countries: Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania. Data were collected through focus group discussions, household questionnaire, key informant interviews, participant observations and literature review. Quantitative data were analyzed using Excel and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and presented in frequency distribution tables and graphs. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Sustainable Land Management (SLM) approaches and practices applied by farmers adjacent to mangrove forests consist of conservation measures such as agronomic, vegetative, structural and management measures. They were applied on farms to address land problems related to soil fertility mining, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, compaction/ soil sealing and crusting, salinity, water degradation, soil pollution and climate variability. Own innovations, contact farmers, field visits, Farmer Field School (FFS), Participatory Forest Management (PFM), meetings, and demonstration plots were the approaches used to promote best SLM practices. Selection of the best practices and approaches in the Eastern African countries has based on specific land degradation problems. The Eastern Africa countries have a range of policies which are relevant in the promotion of SLM approaches and practices. It is important to note that not all SLM activities are best practices and those that are technically effective or suitable for one specific site/location are not necessarily the best option for other sites/locations with different biophysical constraints and socio-economic contexts. The best practices are characterized by being profitable, cost-efficient, easy to learn, socially and culturally accepted, effectively adopted and taken up, environmentally friendly, and are appropriate for all stakeholders. Sustainability of SLM approaches and practices was determined by assessing their effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, ethical soundness, level of community involvement, partnership and collaboration, political commitment, sustainability, and replication and adoption.