Author Archives: Sara Lavenhar

Recap: IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group Meeting in China

Recap: IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group Meeting in China

MAP Executive Director Alfredo Quarto recently attended the IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group Symposium in Xiamen, China from November 12-13. He presented information about mangroves and MAP programs. Here are his thoughts.

IUCN MSG Group Photo
During the symposium, one of the presenters dealt with the importance of mangrove associates, including mangrove associates and epiphytes such as orchids in ensuring a healthy, bio-diverse mangrove ecosystem. It had not occurred to me just how vital these associates and epiphytes were in producing a healthy mangrove wetland, including ensuring adequate pollination of mangroves and overall plant health. The flowering plants such as orchids attract the insects that are important for pollination of the  mangroves.

This fact further proves the case for not relying on plantations and mitigation as a way to replace a functioning mangrove system in one place with a planted or afforested one elsewhere, because it will take many years to establish the full mangrove community including the associates and epiphytes.

Further surprise is that in China over 2500 ha of planted, introduced Sonerratia mangroves from Bangladesh have been established in China as a way to lessen coastal erosion and protect against hurricane winds and waves. However, this may not yet be an invasive species in China, as it turns out that the Sonerratia is not getting pollinated because of lack of available suitable pollinators in China. There are some plans to introduce such pollinators so this species can reproduce, but this raises the specter of yet another bio-invasive species there.

China-Spartina Zhiangjiankou Reserve
China seems ripe for such bio-invasions as they attempt to introduce other species of plants to their coastal zones. Someone had earlier introduce the marsh plant Spartina which grows naturally in the US to China and because of lack of natural bio-containment, this species has become rampant in growth, actually threatening the native mangroves because of the thick growth of this invasive grass-like can choke out the mangroves in the area. Vast beds of Spartina spread rapidly in the shallow bay and estuary waters there. At present there is no program established to counter this threat, but again talk of introducing natural competitors such as insects to keep the Spartina in check are being discussed there, which could be problematic in establishing yet a new threat to China’s wetlands.

During the MSG strategy session, I was able to get formal approval for my earlier introduced proposal for undertaking a global assessment of past and present mangrove restoration in an attempt to establish a best practices approach to mangrove restoration. This assessment will involve MAP, Robin Lewis and Norm Duke of MangroveWatch in the process. MangroveWatch will undertake the actual groundwork of assessing the success and failure of selected restoration sites. This is important because too often mangrove restoration projects are not monitored and evaluated, thus allowing bad practices to be repeated and promoted… to the tune of millions of dollars and thousands of wasted man hours in futile plantings. Because this failure to monitor and evaluate leads to around 70% or more failure rates, we are losing opportunity to reverse the ongoing negative trend in mangrove losses.

Therefore, undertaking this kind of widespread study of restoration attempts in Asia, the Americas and Africa could well help positively influence future mangrove restoration programs, and we can be assured CBEMR approaches will get the positive attention they so long have deserved.

The first phase of this assessment will occur in the Philippines where some terrible practices already exist, including a very expansive government program to afforest sea grass beds with mangroves! Dr. Jurgenne Primavera, who is a board member of both MSG and the ZSL is leading the effort in the Philippines to oppose this destructive ecosystem conversion, but so far has not been able to convince authorities there to change their short-sighted approach. So, the proposed mangrove assessment involving MSG will have some chance to affect policy there.

Aquaculture pond near Zhangjiankou Mangrove Nature Reserve
For inclusion of recommendations to IUCN by the MSG, I will be working on a couple of recommendations. One will recommend against mitigation as a means to justify further mangrove habitat loss, and the other the recommendation to keep shrimp farms out of the inter-tidal zone, not just out of the mangroves, but outside the whole inter-tidal area. These one page recommendations will be reviewed by the MSG steering committee and may be included in their final statement of recommendations to IUCN.

I saw Jim in Thailand and Cambodia, discussing MAP topics with him.  While traveling in Cambodia I visited a joint community-livelihoods project at Tonle Sap, meeting for the first time members of the PMCR group there whom MAP Asia has been working with over the last 10 years or so. They are establishing a very promising community savings plan, involving women’s groups in the process of making small loans for small-scale community development projects, eliminating the middleman in the process.

MAP Receives Disney Conservation Grant

Mangrove Action Project Receives Disney Conservation Grant

PORT ANGELES, WA: 19 November 2015: Mangrove Action Project (MAP) has been awarded a $19,800 grant from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). The conservation grant recognizes Mangrove Action Project’s efforts to educate young people throughout the world on the vital importance of mangrove wetlands, in this instance the focus is on introducing MAP’s ‘Marvellous Mangroves’ curriculum to Suriname’s schools.

“Suriname is the thirteenth country throughout the world where MAP has begun the process of translating, adapting, researching and introducing ‘Marvellous Mangroves’ – a 300-page curriculum linked teaching resource guide,” said MAP Global Education Director Martin Keeley. “The Disney grant will enable us to complete this exciting program and inspire local people to protect the mangrove forests of Suriname.”

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#GivingTuesday MAP logo

Mangrove Action Project Joins #GivingTuesday Movement

Save the Date for #GivingTuesday

Mangrove Action Project Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement

Pledges to Combat Climate Change through Mangrove Conservation

Seattle, WA November 18, 2015– The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Occurring this year on December 1, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday to start the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

This year, MAP is kicking off its new giving program on #GivingTuesday, called Monthly Mangrove Sustainership, to raise funds for our field work in Southeast Asia and expand our education curriculum into three new countries. Our goal is to raise a record-breaking $10,000 in one day.

MAP has relied on our global network for support for 23 years to act on behalf of mangroves and mangrove communities, preventing destructive development projects and advocating for stronger environmental policies. On December 1, we will be joining a new network; one that will amplify our voices even further as we stand together to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

For us at MAP, that means combatting climate change. Mangroves sequester 5x as much carbon as any other terrestrial forest, even rainforests, which is just one of many reasons why mangroves are such critical ecosystems to our way of life. MAP is joining #GivingTuesday to tackle this challenge in the spirit of giving. We depend on friends and neighbors to lend their hands and their skills, to spread the word and be speakers themselves. When we work together, we can be extraordinary.

Join Us

Sara Lavenhar
Mangrove Action Project
(330) 732-5728
[email protected]

About #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give—the 2015 iteration will be held on December 1, 2015. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners—nonprofits, businesses and corporations as well as families and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. The event harnesses the power of social media to create a global moment dedicated to giving around the world.

92Y − a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back − conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2014, the third year of the movement, #GivingTuesday brought together 30,000 partners in 68 countries and registered 32.7 million impressions on Twitter, with its eponymous hashtag mentioned 698,600 times. Since 2012, online giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has increased more than four-fold, based on findings by Blackbaud and the Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, produced in partnership with the Case Foundation.[1]

“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our fourth year of #GivingTuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.”

To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, visit

  1. Case Foundation:

MAP Co-Sponsors Seattle Greendrinks Event

MAP Co-Sponsors Seattle Greendrinks Event

Whenever we go shopping at the grocery store, we are often overwhelmed by the different eco-certification labels plastered over our food packaging: USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Fairtrade, Certified Humane, and many, many more. It can be difficult to sift through all of these labels to find those that really mean something, and really reflect our concerns as consumers.

greendrinks logo

This past Tuesday, November 10th, the Mangrove Action Project sponsored the November Happy Hour for Seattle Greendrinks, joined by five other amazing organizations: Washington Fair Trade Coalition, The Domestic Fair Trade Association, the Seattle Aquarium, Pinchot University, and Central Co-op. This diverse group of organizations presented information about their work, as well as the way eco-labels come into the picture for them. Conversations throughout the night spanned topics like sustainable seafood, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, human rights, sustainable agriculture education, truly just and fair trade both internationally and domestically, and how labeling impacts our lives.
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Mangrove Action Project to Co-Sponsor Seattle Greendrinks Event

Mangrove Action Project to Co-Sponsor Seattle Greendrinks Event

Broad alliance of organizations hopes for an educating evening

November 2, 2015

Contact: Sara Lavenhar
Telephone: 330-732-5728
Email: [email protected]

Seattle, WA, November 2, 2015– The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) is pleased to announce their co-sponsorship of the Seattle Greendrinks event, to be held at the Waterfront Space on November 10th. The theme of the event will be framed by the question “Where does my food come from?” and have an emphasis on understanding certification labels. We are proud to be joined by representatives of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, The Domestic Fair Trade Association, the Seattle Aquarium, and Pinchot University, with food provided by Central Co-op.

Although Seattle is very proud of its local seafood and agriculture, MAP has found that everyone could use a little help figuring out how exactly to make responsible choices that they feel comfortable with. Our goal is to provide every attendee with resources they didn’t know existed, and to fold in some education to the evening’s activities.

Event Information:

Date: November 10th, 5:30-8:30pm

Location: Friends of Waterfront Seattle, 1400 Western Ave, Seattle


Don’t forget your own cup and as always, it’s $5 at the door!

We would love to know if you are coming to this event! Please go to our Eventbrite page and take a minute to register. There is no registration fee, but it lets us know you are coming!

WFTC logo
MAP logo
Pinchot logo
Seattle Aquarium logo
Central Co-op Logo


Information about our Co-Sponsors:

The Washington Fair Trade Coalition is a coalition of over 60 Washington labor, faith, environmental, farmer, and social justice groups that are committed to creating a fair, balanced, and sustainable global trading system.

The Domestic Fair Trade Association is a national membership organization that works to promote and protect the integrity of domestic fair trade principles and practices through education, marketing, advocacy and endorsement.

Pinchot University is committed to the common good, for people who want to transform organizations, communities or markets in ways that are practical, positive, sustainable and profitable. Pinchot offers certificates in Cooperative Management and Food and Agricultural Systems, which they will be showcasing at the event.

Central Co-op is a member-owned natural foods cooperative in the heart of Seattle dedicated to sustainable practices, community accountability, and the local food economy. Central Co-op is our new food sponsor for Greendrinks!

The Seattle Aquarium is the ninth largest aquarium in the U.S. by attendance and among the top five paid visitor attractions in the Puget Sound region. Their mission is Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment.

Information about Greendrinks:

Seattle Greendrinks is an organization which serves to grow and connect Seattle’s environmental community. The monthly social gathering remains the core of Seattle Greendrinks’ work, and all are welcome to join on the second Tuesday of every month, starting around 5:30pm. The goal of the  group is pretty simple: to create a space that fosters connections and good times shared among people working in, or interested in, environmental and sustainability issues. Each event usually draws between 100-200 people.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Sara Lavenhar at 330-732-5728 or email at [email protected]

MAP Talks Traceability at Seattle Sustainable Seafood Week Industry Lab

MAP Talks Traceability at Seattle Sustainable Seafood Week Industry Lab

On August 5th, MAP Outreach and Development Coordinator Sara Lavenhar joined over 90 other stakeholders at the Seattle Sustainable Seafood Industry Lab, held at Ray’s Boathouse. This was the first Sustainable Seafood Week in Seattle, an event that was started in New York a few years ago.

The day began with classic Seattle weather – a bit overcast and cool temperatures, especially right off the water at Ray’s. Cheryl Dahle, Future of Fish Executive Director and Flip Labs C.E.O., got the event off to a good start, introducing the theme of traceability and setting a spunky tone with her fabulously fish-inspired outfit. She highlighted various issues that make traceability important, such as preventing slavery and fighting industry fraud and mislabeling. Beyond simply being a technical challenge, traceability is also a people problem; there is a culture of resistance in the industry, as well as infrastructure resistance, which means a lot of careful and intentional change needs to happen. Ms. Dahle also explained four different types tracking that need to be used simultaneously to reach end-to-end traceability.

The first panel explored the collaborative ecosystem that is developing to support robust and verifiable end-to-end solutions for traceability challenges worldwide. Moderated by Keith Flett, also of Future of Fish and Flip Labs, attendees heard from Duncan Berry, CEO and Co-Founder of Fishpeople; Thomas Craft, Founder of Insite Solutions; Eric Enno, Team Leader of Traceability Initiatives at Ecotrust Canada; and Stephen Pratt of Trace Register. Panelists explained some of the reasons why traceability is hard to achieve, namely that there are over 1400 species of seafood identified by the FDA and many small players in a huge global industry. They stressed that traceability initiatives need to be economical both for the fishermen implementing it and for auditing systems. It was in this panel that the term ‘storied fish’ emerged and continued to dominate conversations throughout the day.

Following the panel, attendees participated in a World Cafe brainstorming session. Each table would end up having a slightly different discussion, but there were definitely many common themes. Three questions were posed:

  • What is a positive impact that traceability can affect? (Each table was supposed to narrow one down)
  • What are the roadblocks to implementing traceability for the identified positive impact?
  • How can the participants at the table use their skills and assets to collaborate and address the issues preventing traceability?

Storied fish and informed purchasing were a common identified positive impact, with education (for both consumers and chefs) being one major roadblock to implementation. Many tables identified innovative ways to tell stories and become advocates for traceability as a way to overcome named challenges.

Following the exercise, Ms. Dahle briefly interviewed Dune Ives of Vulcan, Inc. to discuss the creation and development of Smart Catch, a new program to promote engagement of both chefs and consumers with the food they eat. The pilot program has over 90 participants, including Ray’s Boathouse where the lab was held.

The second panel focused on the challenges and solutions to sourcing sustainable seafood. Ms. Dahle stepped in again to moderate, and attendees heard from John Abrahamson of Provvista Specialty Foods, Justin Boevers of Fish Choice, Douglas Zellers from Ray’s, and Chef Renee Erickson, owner of The Walrus and The Carpenter. The panelists identified ways in which chefs, consumers, distributors, and suppliers could all work together to promote a more efficient and sustainable supply chain. The importance of empowering distributors to have an active role was emphasized. Seattle is getting loud enough to make real changes in the seafood industry, and that is an incredible step forward.

The final panel was moderated by Paul Dye, Director of Marine Conservation at The Nature Conservancy. Bill Dewey from Taylor Shellfish Farms, Preston Hardison of the Tulalip Tribes, Ellen Southard from Salmon-Safe and Stewardship Partners, and Jed Spikes from Whole Foods spoke about the impact of the built environment on local waterways, and in turn local seafood. Each told the story from their perspective, and how they address some of these issues. Attendees learned about the need for ecological restoration (a method MAP knows well!) and learning how to treat causes instead of just symptoms, even at large scales. Hardison brought up the idea of teleconnective systems – ones that span both time and space, and how that informs perspectives on restoration.

The day wrapped up with a networking reception featuring Salmon-safe certified wines.

Check out the conversation on Twitter!:



Mangrove Action Project Joins Healthy Oceans Coalition


Coalition works to provide stewardship for oceans, coasts and lakes in the United States

HOC logologoemail

August 4, 2015

Contact: Sara Lavenhar
Telephone: 330-732-5728
Email: [email protected]

Seattle, WA, August 10, 2015– The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) is proud to announce that is has joined the Healthy Oceans Coalition (HOC), a network of ocean users, conservationists, and concerned citizens supporting full implementation of the National Ocean Policy (NOP) for the stewardship of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. The HOC offers ways for the conservation community to easily engage in supporting the NOP and marine planning efforts.

Through this partnership, MAP hopes to act more effectively for a comprehensive NOP that supports coastal wetlands and mangrove ecosystems that in turn support healthy oceans. It is a great opportunity for MAP to be more in touch with US ocean issues, connecting both with other organizations as well as our community of support. This partnership is particularly timely in light of the recent destruction of mangroves for the 2016 Miami Boat Show. As a member of the HOC, MAP is better positioned to influence critical conservation efforts for mangroves, as well as promote local fisheries and sustainable seafood.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Sara Lavenhar at 330-732-5728 or email at [email protected]

Mangrove Action Project Joins Seafood Watch as Conservation Partner


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August 3, 2015

Contact: Sara Lavenhar
Telephone: 330-732-5728
Email: [email protected]

Seattle, WA, August 3, 2015– The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) proudly announces Conservation Partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® program.

MAP is pleased to work with the Seafood Watch® program in order to better serve our community and help consumers make conscientious choices on more than just shrimp, which are the focus of a consumer education campaign in Seattle. By working with the Seafood Watch® program, MAP hopes to increase awareness about shrimp as well as the global connections and impacts an individual has on maintaining healthy ecosystems.

What is Seafood Watch?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program empowers consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans, helping support diverse marine ecosystems for the future. Using science-based, peer reviewed methods, Seafood Watch® assesses how fisheries and farmed seafood impact the environment and provides recommendations indicating which items are ‘Best Choices,’ ‘Good Alternatives,’ and which ones to ‘Avoid.’ Seafood Watch® raises sustainable seafood awareness through its consumer guides, website, app for mobile devices, and partnerships with businesses, zoos, aquariums and culinary leaders across North America.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Sara Lavenhar at 330-732-5728 or email at [email protected]

Mangroves Illegally Removed in Miami, FL for International Boat Show

Mangroves Illegally Removed in Miami, FL for International Boat Show

Maa00 BoatSMangrove NEW PPP

Local officials in Key Biscayne continue to fight over boat show location

30th July 2015 – news release for immediate publication
Mangrove deforestation happens worldwide, and unfortunately just last month it happened in our own country. Contractors in the city of Key Biscayne, Florida illegally tore down 300 feet of Mangroves without proper permits in order to prepare for the International Boat Show in Miami.

In Jenny Staletovich‘s Miami Herald article, “Miami cuts Virginia Key Mangroves to Make Way for Boat Show,” she explains how the city has stopped the deforestation for now.

The Mangrove Action Project is reaching out to city and state officials to provide support in addressing this incident, as well as demand adequate reparations for the illegal removal of 300 feet of mature mangrove forest.

Alfredo Quarto, the Executive Director and Co-Founder at Mangrove Action Project responded to the news with:

“We at Mangrove Action Project are quite concerned that even in the US, we can still find evidence of such flagrant violations. In our country, formidable laws exist to protect our own nation’s threatened mangroves. It reminds me of an old song by Peter, Paul and Mary, Where Have All the Flowers Gone:

“Where have all the mangroves gone, long time ago,
Gone to boat shows and tourist hotels…”

MAP urges the government of Florida to seek the help of an expert versed in Ecological Mangrove Restoration to better ensure that the recently cleared mangrove wetland can be restored to some semblance of it former health and productivity. We recommend that a full investigation into the reason this mangrove loss occurred in the first place be initiated and those decision makers who took this illicit course of action be reprimanded as a deterrent to others in the US contemplating similar such illegal actions.”

Florida is a state that knows about the dangers of mangrove deforestation. This peninsula state is surrounded by aquatic life that requires preservation and protection. MAP will continue to monitor the situation until it has been resolved satisfactorily.

Contact details:

Sara Lavenhar, sara (at)