Mangrove loss threatens Kenyan coastal communities and the climate

This article on Climate Change News brings up the matter of Mangrove forests in Kenya and examines how the destruction of these forests may impact climate change on a level that we may not expect. It is common knowledge that the destruction of forested areas around the world has caused unprecedented habitat loss and problems between the western world and the locals who wish to earn a living. However this article manages to look at how mangroves are more beneficial to the locals, as well as climate as a whole.

I believe this article manages to focus effectively on the local people’s problems, which is helped exponentially by the quotes from Atwaa Salim throughout the piece. There are also quotes from an ecologist, so both a local viewpoint and a scientific are taken into consideration when forming the informative basis of the article.

Personally, I think this article is well-written, and manages to explain why the mangroves are important on both a scientific level and on a more local level. There are plenty of statistics, however I feel some of them are unwarranted and perhaps not specific enough to the local scope of the piece. I also feel that some of the examples of case studies used throughout the article, e.g the rubbish management, were somewhat unnecessary and don’t actually add anything of value to the piece.

Do you think the lead does an effective job of drawing in the reader and explaining the contents of the piece?  And do you think the quotes throughout the piece help it become a more personal article, and that the quotes are necessary?

Do you think that the amount of facts and figures is too much, and some of them are not relevant enough to the article? Do you think the photos and figures throughout the piece add extra information, or are they uninformative and show no clear link to the words? And, lastly, what do you think about the efforts to protect the mangrove forests, do you think enough is being done?

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14 Responses to “Mangrove loss threatens Kenyan coastal communities and the climate”

  1. This article on how the destruction of the mangroves negatively effects the environment revealed a much lesser known side to climate change. I completely agree that the article was well-written and draws in the reader by mixing the scientific and local-community components of the story.

    I also agree that quotes are used very effectively throughout the story. For example, closing the piece with, “Without the mangroves, we would have no fish and no building materials, it would be our end”, definitely leaves a major impact on the reader. However, in order to make the story even stronger, I think it would have been beneficial to include an anecdote about a community member who was particularly hard struck by the mangrove destruction. For example, the piece mentions how local fishermen need the coastal areas to remain healthy because their boats cannot go very far. Have any fishermen already lost their livelihoods due to worsening water conditions? I think by introducing the reader to more members of the community, the local perspective could be further strengthened.

  2. Although I think the majority of the article was well-written, I wish there were more transition phrases in order to create a better flow of ideas. The sources came from different backgrounds, which can help to persuade readers of all audiences. The photos are also very useful. I read a study for one of my other classes on the use of environmental photography to convince readers of climate change and it proved its effectiveness. I think the people of Kenya, however, need to figure out mitigation tactics to prevent further loss of mangrove trees.

  3. This article was well-written because it communicates how important the forests are and how essential it is on a local scale. The quotes from the locals are significant to the article; however, the quotes from the ecologist could have been paraphrased because they are facts and not communicating a certain emotion.

    I appreciated the facts and the figures because they illustrated how the forests are laid out currently and the rates of removal. This offers a realistic perception of the extent of damage the forest removals have on the ecosystem. They also do a good job as corresponding to the information stated in the article. The graph representing coverage of the mangrove trees was helpful in gaging spatially where the forests are located, which adds relevancy as humans tend to think in spatial terms.

    In terms of successful efforts to deter mangrove forest removal, the region needs more help and stronger social support. The avoidance of trash is helpful; however, this solution has limitations because citizens are required to pay a fee which adds a disincentive.

  4. Megan:
    You asked many very engaging questions that are the basis for a great discussion of how this article was executed. I would add one question to those you’ve laid out here: Does the headline reflect an opinion or can it be considered fair and objective? That’s another element to consider as you critique these pieces. This headline definitely reflected a particular tone. Also, a note about future blog posts: avoid asking questions about the issue. You had asked about whether enough is being done to protect the mangrove forests. We would prefer that students not weigh in with an opinion of the issue. We want you to view these pieces as a journalist and consumer of news, so it’s best to stick to questions that elicit discussion of the way the issue is communicated, not on the issue itself. Overall, though, you did a very nice job on this first blog post!
    Julie

  5. This article on mangrove loss was well-written and allowed the reader to empathize with the anxiety felt by the individuals of Lamu. Typically, the loss of a plant family causes one to think of the negative environmental impacts that may result, however the journalist took a different approach to this issue. The mangrove loss was analyzed through more of a social lens and focused more on the social and economic implications. However, the environmental implications were explained as well.

    The journalist’s use of quotes allowed the reader to empathize with the situation of the people of Lamu. Including details about how mangrove loss will affect the fishing economy of the locals allows readers to relate to the helpless situation they are facing. Additionally, mentioning the importance of the beautiful landscape created by mangroves provided readers with the social importance that this plant provides. Overall, this article did a great job allowing the readers to connect and empathize with the situation of the people of Lamu.

  6. I think the fade-in to this story was extremely effective in capturing my attention as a reader. In the first sentence alone, I found myself interested in learning more about the town of Lamu, what the author meant by “a coral-rich archipelago,” and what about this town’s architecture and beaches led to its official status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I will admit, that’s a lot of very new information all meshed into one sentence, but in this case, I don’t think it’s overwhelming—I still am very much interested in continuing the story. Additionally, this introductory sentence did serve as a very strong summary of the article, as a whole.

    I don’t really feel like the quotes added much substance to the story. Quotes such as “Mangroves are everything for us,” could have been said by just about anybody, and not necessarily a local. I just think that if this article is going to include quotes from locals, they might as well include quotes that provide a unique perspective.

    I don’t think there were too many facts and figures, because they were largely necessary to back up the key points made in the article. I do think, however, that the format of this article is bordering on scientific paper rather than pleasure reading. I tend to glaze over the figures in these kinds of articles because they take some time to interpret. So I suppose while the facts and figures were necessary for the most part, the article could stand to have a few less. I would certainly say keep the facts, and cut down on the figures. Additionally, the figures should be specifically referenced in the text so that they don’t appear to just be randomly thrown in.

    I think that mangrove forest conservation will always come second to tourism and coal power plant production. The article was largely about the problems plaguing mangrove forests, while there was little to no mention of how to fix the problem. I think the intention of this article was to convey the issue, when in fact, it probably should have made an effort to also incorporate details about what’s being done about the issue.

  7. I liked how this article discussed a local issue, but still managed to broaden the scope to convince readers far away from Lamu why they should care about mangrove loss. I disagree that there were too many facts and figures in the piece. I thought that there was just the right amount and that they were necessary to pique a non-local reader’s interest in the issue.

    Overall, I think the use of quotes from Atwaa Salim helped me empathize with the severity of the issue and they helped create a balance between facts and emotions in the piece. However, there was one quote from Salim (“local fishermen with their small boats can’t move more than three miles away from the coast, and it’s crucial for them that the coastal environment remains healthy.”) that I felt could have been paraphrased instead as his specific wording didn’t help me empathize with the situation.

    Finally, I don’t think the choice of pictures was as strong as it could have been. The pictures themselves didn’t help engage me in the story. In addition, the captions were necessary for me to make sense of the photos, and I did not understand the photos’ relevance until after reading the captions.

  8. I found that many of the many of the statistics given were important to showing that Kenya is very much part of the global climate community. I actually could have done with more statistics to better put into the effects of the coal plant into perspective. Similarly, I felt that the donkey waste removal added a lot of “local color”.

    In response to Julia’s question about whether or not the headline is fair and objective, I would say that it succeeds on both fronts. If there was a dispute about whether the loss of mangroves will hurt the coastal communities or contribute to global warming then the headline would be problematic. However, since the national government is engaged it reparative policies (the article hints at them planting new mangroves), they probably recognize the impacts that mangrove loss will have.

    I do, however, feel that the content of the article is lopsided. The authors don’t interview any officials about the new developments and they don’t attempt to give more than a one sentence justification for the government’s policies. Having said that, I’m not sure how concerned a website with the url Climate Change News is with researching compelling defenses of industry.

  9. To me, the article was quite flat and did not engage me through the end. Yes, mangroves are very important and precious for sequestering carbon but that point was well made early within the article. I think that this article could have expanded the idea and proposed solutions or relevance for the readers. How would I, as a reader, benefit from knowing about this subject and even help the cause? Therefore, in my opinion, this article could have skipped the long quotes at the end and opened up the discussion about climate change up in order to really make this article worth reading and influential. As environmentalists, we know that the destruction of nature is going on everywhere in the world and destroying peoples livelihoods. This article lacked originality that left me questioning why read this extremely specific piece on Kenya instead of all the other environmental articles out there. I think that the fact that I am questioning this shows some weakness in the writing of this piece.

    Commenting on what Julie proposed about the title- I think the title did a sufficient job at portraying the facts of what is going on. Additionally the author included the communities in the title before climate change, which I think contrasts other titles and draws people in.

  10. I think that this article was very well-written and did a great job of making the reader care about this issue that the reader is most likely very far removed from. In response to Julie’s question about the objectivity of the article headline, while I do agree that the headline did have a tone of urgency and made it clear what the author’s viewpoint was, I think the headline was objective. The headline doesn’t say anything that the author can’t back up with undisputed facts about mangrove loss, so for that reason, I think it’s fair.

    I agree with other people that there could have been more pictures to help illustrate the state of the mangroves and make people sympathize more with this issue. I think a great place to put a picture would be following the quote: “In Lamu, one big threat to the mangroves is household rubbish. ‘Imagine you have a forest just beside you,” says Salim. “All the rubbish dropped on the beach is washed away towards it and before you know it the mangroves have become a dumping site. In those conditions they won’t survive.'” It’s harder for the reader to just imagine having this polluted forest right next to them like the quote suggests, because most readers are so far removed from this life. Having a photograph of this pollution and damage would be really helpful to readers.

    I also think that ending the article with “There seems to be a clash of priorities between the local and national governments, with the latter more worried about creating wealth to distribute nationwide, sometimes at the expenses of the local, impoverished communities” is somewhat confusing for the readers, because it’s a vague statement that wasn’t addressed fully earlier in the article. I don’t know if its effective for the author to end with this statement if it wasn’t a major focus of the article, and isn’t backed up with any other evidence. Hearing more about this clash between local and national governments, and maybe hearing more from the perspective of the national government, would have helped readers have a more holistic understanding of this issue, and not just be exposed to one side.

  11. I lay well within the majority of people when I say that this article was well-written and it does a good job in bringing to light an issue that most people would not be aware of. While not an issue that directly impacts many people it still inspires people to care. It strongly conveyed the emotion and issues people are faced with in regards to the destruction of their livelihood and local ecosystem. Furthermore, in regards to Julie’s question, I feel that the title of the article is still objective despite the tone, it only contains information that is discussed in the article and the local communities do face a threat in the destruction of mangroves.

    The support of scientific information about the function of mangroves in the ecosystem also helps build understanding in people who don’t have much experience with mangrove forests. This is a vital part of articles that deal with conservation or ecosystems in general, because people are much more likely to support something when they understand how important it is.

    I do however think that it may have been a good call for the author to include that mangrove forests closer to home, notably in Florida, are also in danger. Having this link to something people can relate to can also make a huge difference in enlisting peoples interest.

  12. I definitely think the article was effective at drawing the reader in and is very informative about the threat to Lamu’s mangroves and the impact it has on the city. While the lede was effective, I thought the article was a bit abrupt when transitioning from scientific explanation of the mangroves to the introduction of Atwaa Salim.

    The sources and quotes used definitely make the article a lot more interesting. The reporter is helpful in explaining the data about the environment but the quotes from Salim, Ariana Sutton-Grier and Carl Trettin make the article much more compelling.

    A useful additional source could have been a local fisherman who can speak to his personal experience with how the health of the mangroves affect his livelihood. Salim is a great source by acting as a representative of his hometown. However, Salim also talks about how the mangroves greatly affect local fishermen. it seems like that would ave been an natural place to have included additional insight from a local fisherman.

  13. I definitely think the article was effective at drawing the reader in and is very informative about the threat to Lamu’s mangroves and the impact it has on the city. While the lede was effective, I thought the article was a bit abrupt when transitioning from scientific explanation of the mangroves to the introduction of Atwaa Salim.

    The sources and quotes used definitely make the article a lot more interesting. The reporter is helpful in explaining the data about the environment but the quotes from Salim, Ariana Sutton-Grier and Carl Trettin make the article much more compelling.

    A useful additional source could have been a local fisherman who can speak to his personal experience with how the health of the mangroves affect his livelihood. Salim is a great source by acting as a representative of his hometown. However, Salim also talks about how the mangroves greatly affect local fishermen. It seems like that would have been a natural place to have included additional insight from a local fisherman.

  14. The article was very well written. In terms of structure, I thought that the lede was particularly effective. It localizes the story, but eventually goes on to relate it back to the bigger picture. Climate change is a hot topic that affects the world’s population, and I think the journalist reminded the readers of that efficiently by writing, “Lamu is far from alone in its struggle. All over the world mangroves are being destroyed at an alarming rate.”
    There is a good balance of fact/personal information in the story – enough narrative that I stay emotionally engaged without being bored by statistics. As for the quotes, I think they are effective until the end of the story, similar to how Natalie feels. It felt inappropriate to end on a quote that didn’t directly tie into the lede.

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