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A Conservationist’s Push to Save Tanzania’s Mangroves

On the coast of Tanzania’s Mafia Island lies a blue lagoon – a dream-like pool of bright turquoise water, filtered and cooled by the mangroves which surround it. Ailars David, a marine conservation warden at the reserve, said the plan is to build a boardwalk for tourists to reach the lagoon so they can swim surrounded by nature and the freshest of air. David hopes this nascent “eco-tourism” project can help fund work to patrol the Marine Protected Area’s more than 5,000 hectares of mangrove forest on the island in the Indian Ocean off the east African coast, south of Zanzibar. Some locals on Mafia Island want to cut down the coastal vegetation as wood for cooking and fires, David said, while the area – popular with divers – is also under threat from tourist developments looking to clear trees to open access to the beach.