The district of Pitas in the Malaysian state of Sabah is situated on the 40-kilometer Bengkoka peninsula on the island of Borneo, stretching east into the South China sea. This forested, hilly area slopes down to the coast along the Telaga River, through ancient mangrove forest. But since the 1980s, it has been increasingly opened up by government-sanctioned development projects; more recently, in 2013, mangrove clearance has resumed for the commercial farming of shrimp (also referred to as prawns). This resurgence has brought the company Sunlight Inno Seafood Company Sdn Bhd, which is supported by the government, into conflict with local communities that depend on the mangroves for their livelihoods.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will try to work out a collaborative sustainable mangrove management in the region amid climate change in a Mangrove Congress September 4-8 in Manila. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) will hold the 2nd ASEAN Congress on Mangrove Research and Development with the theme “Sustainable Management of Mangroves in the course of Climate Change.” “Mangrove habitats represent both a vulnerable resource and a potential deterrent to the effects of climate change. Sea level rise poses a major threat to mangrove ecosystems as it induces erosion and weakening of root structures, increased salinity, and mangrove inundation,” the ERDB said. Mangroves have been recognized to play an important role as a barrier against storm surges as what has been observed during Super typhoon Yolanda in 2013. “Mangroves are also known to attenuate waves by as much as 75 percent through its vast underground root networks and high vegetation structural complexity,” according to Anna McIvor, team leader of the study titled “Storm Surge Reduction by Mangroves.”
A new effort to mobilize the world to stop mangrove deforestation and to undertake a massive restoration effort is underway. The goal of the Alliance is to expand overall extent of mangrove forests 20 percent by 2030. WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Wetlands International (and now Mangrove Action Project) have joined together to take up this challenge. And that list is growing. The Global Mangrove Alliance was born of the belief that a renewed effort is needed across multiple sectors and geographies to give mangroves their due, and to massively scale and accelerate conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems. The know-how exists; it is the will and interest to act that needs bolstering. The Paris agreement and its focus on developing country-by-country plans to reduce carbon emissions is a new moment that will allow us to both accelerate existing work to protect and restore mangroves while generating and funneling significant new global investment. If we can generate enough momentum to accomplish these ambitious aims, we can improve the well-being of tens of millions of people and revitalize critical coastal ecosystems.
The Global Mangrove Alliance is a new effort to mobilize the world to stop mangrove deforestation and to undertake a massive restoration effort. The goal of the Alliance is to expand overall extent of mangrove forests 20 percent by 2030. WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Wetlands International have joined together to take up this challenge. And that list is growing. The Global Mangrove Alliance was born of the belief that a renewed effort is needed across multiple sectors and geographies to give mangroves their due, and to massively scale and accelerate conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems. The know-how exists; it is the will and interest to act that needs bolstering. The Paris agreement and its focus on developing country-by-country plans to reduce carbon emissions is a new moment that will allow us to both accelerate existing work to protect and restore mangroves while generating and funneling significant new global investment. If we can generate enough momentum to accomplish these ambitious aims, we can improve the well-being of tens of millions of people and revitalize critical coastal ecosystems.
Mangrove Action Project is proud to celebrate 25 years of working to expand the awareness of mangrove forests and the people who depend upon them. Twenty-five years ago, raising public awareness on mangroves and roles they play in fisheries, human safety, carbon-storage, coral reel protection, migratory bird habitat, and myriads of other benefits and value, seemed nearly insurmountable. Forests were being decimated, and destructive forces seemed unwilling to listen to the small voices of communities and NGO who cried out against them. However, here we are in 2017, 25 years later, celebrating Mangrove Action Day which has been recognized by the United Nations and endorsed by countless communities and organizations, both public and private around the globe. We here at MAP are pleased to join in honoring Mangrove Action Day July 26, 2017 activities. It is now apparent that the entire world has joined us in recognizing the role these vital forest ecosystems play in human life as well as the planet’s life. However, there is still much to be done. Coal fired power plants, dams, overfishing, coastal development and yes, still, unsustainable shrimp farming continue to destroy countless hectares of forest annually. As you remember Mangrove Action Day today, we encourage you to use your small voice to continue to work towards a healthier future; for the planet and for our children. We are here to attest, it works.
Mangrove Action Project (MAP) has been working since 1992 (25 years!) to halt the rampant destruction of the earth’s mangrove forest wetlands that are threatened by unsustainable development. Such industries as charcoal and petroleum production, tourism and urban expansion, golf courses and marinas are all threats to mangrove forests today. Still, the largest threat stems from industrial shrimp aquaculture production, which is the largest contributor to current mangrove loss. In the past 100 years, over half the world’s mangrove forests have been lost to such short-sighted development pressures. Today, only around 15 million ha of the estimated original 36 million ha of mangroves still exist, while much of the remaining mangroves are degraded and in poor health. Mangroves also protect coastal communities from hurricane force winds and wave surges. For these reasons and more, in 2003, MAP joined other organizations from the global South to promote July 26th as Mangrove Action Day. We ask that you and/or your organizations please join us all in a global protest against the ongoing losses of the mangrove forest ecosystems and the local communities that depend upon the mangroves for their lives and livelihoods. Please send MAP your regional or local plans for actions that are meant to commemorate this international Day for the Mangroves! MAP would like to again share your plans and ideas with our global network. We look forward to hearing from you soon in this regard!
Expanding aquaculture in South-East Asia over the last two decades has been the main driver of mangrove loss in the world, says a study published in PLOS One this month (June). The study, conducted by a team of scientists at Global Mangrove Watch (GMW), mapped the distribution and changes of mangrove ecosystems in the world during 1996 — 2010 using satellite imagery. The team analysed 1,168 mangrove areas in North, Central and South America, Africa, Middle East, India, and South-East Asia. Nathan Thomas, lead author of the study, found 38 per cent of mangrove areas observed in the study are affected by human activity. South-East Asia, home to 33.8 per cent of the world’s mangroves, as well as 90 per cent of the world’s aquaculture, was the worst affected region with half of its mangrove areas suffering degradation. “Mangroves are being threatened across their entire range and have suffered large losses over the past century, primarily due to increasing coastal populations and the conversion of mangroves to aquaculture. Mangroves are being threatened across their entire range and have suffered large losses over the past century, primarily due to increasing coastal populations and the conversion of mangroves to aquaculture,” says Thomas, currently a post-doctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The summary report for the Community Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR) training which MAP carried out in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar in Jan. 2017 has been released. The 5 day training workshop was followed by 7 days of hands-on field training for a smaller group of participants creating three CBEMR demonstration sites. The training and demonstration sites were carried for the French NGO, ACTED, and was funded by USAID and Synchronicity Earth of the UK. Besides the normal land tenure complications to locating demonstration sites we discovered firewood collection and free grazing livestock are the greatest barriers to natural mangrove regeneration in the area surrounding Sittwe and as a result restoration sites required fencing and strong community commitment to maintain them. On behalf of co-trainer, Dominic Wodehouse and myself, I would like to thank our Myanmar presenters, facilitators and translators, U Toe Aung from the Forest Department, U Win_Sein_Naing of the Mangrove Service Network (MSN), U San Win, from the Forest Dept and PhD candidate at King Mongkut University, Bangkok, U Win Muang of Worldview Int. Foundation, and U Thein Haing from the Community Empowerment and Resilience Association (CERA). Also a special thanks to all the ACTED staff for their logistics support. All together they contributed to a very successful CBEMR training.
EL SALVADORE – “Without the mangroves, we couldn’t live here,” says José Antonio Hernández. “We wouldn’t have any water.” He is standing on a rare dry patch of soil amid a mangrove forest on El Salvador’s eastern coast. While his green button-up shirt bears the logo of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MARN), Juan works as a volunteer on his daily patrols of the mangroves. José Horacio Soriano accompanies Hernández on the patrol. They both work as Natural Resource Guards for the Mangrove Association, a coalition of 80 communities that protects the mangroves of Usulután province. The Lempa river divides Usulután from the neighboring province of San Vicente. The communities at the river’s southern end where it empties into the Pacific Ocean are known as the Bajo Lempa – or Lower Lempa. Hernández explains that he arrived in the Bajo Lempa at the end of El Salvador’s Civil War. In the 1992 Peace Accords, the government committed to redistributing land to the guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and members of the National Guard and Army.
MAP established the Community Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR) yahoo e-group to share information amongst mangrove restoration practitioners in the Bay of Bengal Region following a CBEMR workshop MAP held in AP, India in 2005. CBEMR puts the focus on hydrology and correcting it if it’s preventing natural regeneration from occurring. Using CBEMR means that planting seedlings often is not required and the result will be a more natural biodiverse mangrove forest. The e-group has proved to be an effective tool for information and experience sharing on mangrove restoration, so the group has been opened to all others interested in CBEMR. Now the group has more than 200 members including students, NGOs, academics, scientists and mangrove restoration practitioners from Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and Australia. The emphasis of the group is on sharing mangrove restoration information using the CBEMR methodology to improve the effectiveness of mangrove restoration projects, but other information on mangrove conservation is also being exchanged. To learn more about the CBEMR group and to request to join please go the CBEMR group’s home page