Utilizing Marine Cultural Heritage for the Preservation of Coastal Systems in East Africa

Georgia Holly, Arturo Rey da Silva, Jon Henderson, Caesar Bita, Wes Forsythe, Zacarias Alexandre Ombe, Christopher Poonian, Hayley Roberts

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This paper presents the key contributions of marine cultural heritage to the survival ofcoastal ecosystems and the communities that rely on them in East Africa. Marine cultural heritage(MCH) describes the evidence of past human interactions with coastal and marine space, encom-passing tangible material culture remains and associated intangible cultural expressions withincoastal communities. By incorporating the protection of MCH into local and regional environmentalframeworks, we gain an essential indicator to monitor change dynamics in natural habitats, the cumulative impacts of climate change, and the development of social adaptation strategies. An es-sential aspect of this development is the move away from global sustainability strategies towards community-centric management and stewardship. Such processes utilise a combination of traditionalknowledge systems and scientific approaches designed to harness targeted economic, ecological,and social sustainable development. To argue for the incorporation of MCH into local and regional environmental frameworks in the area, this paper presents four case studies from the Rising from the Depths Network, a challenge-led research network focusing on harnessing the potential of MCH tobring sustainable development strategies to East Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Article number693
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 19 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The co-creation of knowledge on local environments and marine heritage is currently being pursued through the promotion of social learning events in the Chongoene District, where local schools, farmers, and researchers share knowledge on ecosystems and marine heritage. The Chongoene Archaeological and Biocultural Heritage Park project, funded by the ‘patrimonies’ funding initiative of the German Gerda Henkel Foundation—Stiftung and coordinated by Mozambique University, is a key legacy of this work. The park aims to preserve Chongoene’s archaeological, ecological, and biocultural coastal resources through the creation of a public-use-protected areas and an ecotourism site. The project will employ members of the community as guides, guards, and gardeners, and routine monitoring of exposed archaeological remains and ecological fluctuations will be undertaken.

Funding Information:
This paper focuses on 4 of the 27 innovation projects funded by the Rising from the Depths (RftD) Network in East Africa. Coordinated by the University of Edinburgh, the RftD network aims to promote sustainable economic, social, and ecological development in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar, through the use, preservation, and understanding of MCH. Running from 2017 to 2022, the network is funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Network+ scheme. The Network represents a first attempt to look at the marine cultural heritage of East Africa in a coordinated and multidisciplinary way, uniting the various existing capacities in the region and giving agency to local communities in the elaboration of research agendas, project design, and resource management [3].

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/R005443/1) through the GCRF Network+ Rising from the Depths.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • marine cultural heritage; Africa; sustainable development; climate change; resilience;traditional knowledge; coastal systems; biocultural heritage
  • sustainable development
  • marine cultural heritage
  • biocultural heritage
  • traditional knowledge
  • Africa
  • coastal systems
  • resilience
  • climate change


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