A self-proclaimed “ambassador for mangroves,” scientist James Kairo has been swapping between the muddy gumboots of grassroots action and the shiny shoes of high-level policy discussions for around 27 years now.As a graduate student at the University of Nairobi, Kairo became involved in a project to restore and manage mangroves in Gazi Bay on Kenya’s southern coastline. Later, as a Ph.D. student at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, he returned to the area to explore its restoration ecology.