Mangrove forests are among the most threatened ecosystems, disappearing faster than even tropical rainforests.

Mangroves are also the coast’s nursery, providing the first shelter for 75% of commercially caught fish. But in just half a century, 35% of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed. Kenya has lost a fifth of it’s coastal forests in 25 years.

Because mangroves have evolved to grow on the edge of salt water, they buffer the coast from the sea, stopping erosion and dangerous storm surges. But their hardiness makes them very attractive for builders and local villagers alike.

Salt Water Survivors looks at the efforts to preserve mangrove forests.

70% of Kenya’s remaining mangroves are in Lamu county. Wood cutters here are allowed to selectively harvest the forest, to make dhows and material for traditional homes. Other coastal communities complain that they can’t harvest the wood, and that leaves them destitute.

Photos by Andrew Tkach and Castor Rotich.