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When she was growing up, Tima Abudhi remembers watching her neighbours cut away at the mangrove forests around her village on Pate Island, on Kenya’s east coast, chopping down the coastal trees to build houses or to sell as timber.

As the mangroves disappeared, so did the fish that live and breed among their roots – a disaster for the fishing village of Kizingitini, recalls the now 55-year-old mother of five.

“We depended on fish for food. We ran out of food and money as well because we also trade in fish. Our children suffered the most,” she said.

The villagers also knew the mangrove forests acted as a vital barrier against the increasingly violent cyclones brought on by a warming climate.

The threat to their livelihoods and homes motivated Abudhi and other women to start replanting the mangroves, often spending all day at the beach, taking time away from caring for their families and running their small businesses.

Protecting the mangroves over the past few decades has taken a toll on their incomes, but they felt it was a matter of urgency, Abudhi said.

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