March 9th, 2017 was another sweltering day in southern Thailand. The air was almost wet with humidity, the sun beat down from overhead, and the relentless heat hung around like a blanket. However, the midday temperature did not stop the seven villagers from Ban Thung Yor, Klong Thom, Krabi Province who were exploring the mangrove restoration site at Ban Nai Nang. This was the second stop on a two-day tour of three villages affiliated with Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and funded through Synchronicity Earth of the UK. The tour was set up to highlight the experiences of MAPs participants and share ideas of how to successfully restore their own mangrove area. Villagers here have worked for years to reestablish their mangrove area, and have divided it into two sections- one left to restore naturally, and another with the addition of the planning of Nypa plants that the villagers use for thatch roofs, cigarette rollers, food, and daily life. Villagers of Ban Thung Yor were invited to learn to make batik fabric prints and were taken on a tour of the mangrove area, which has grown a considerable amount since the last time it was visited. “Our biggest problem was hydrology of the site,” spoke Mr. Ekakarat Cheangyang, “once we got the hydrology fixed, the area grew back quite quickly, and is still growing.”
In 1991, 20 hectares of pristine and biodiverse mangroves were cleared in Tiwoho Village, part of Bunaken National Marine Park, as part of a nation-wide program of aquaculture development known as the Blue Revolution, which has resulted in the loss of over 1,000,000 hectares of mangroves nation-wide. The aquaculture venture operated only for a period of 6 months, and the land lay fallow for the next decade. Six attempts to plant mangroves took place over the intervening years, but none of these attempts succeeded, as a result of failure to restore a functional hydrology to the system, which is the limiting factor for successful mangrove rehabilitation. In 2004, the principles of Ecological Mangrove Rehabilitation were applied to the site in a collaboration between villagers, local universities and NGOs, and international ecologists. The following pages bring to life this pivotal rehabilitation effort, the first of its kind in Indonesia where communities were enjoined to repair the hydrology of an abandoned shrimp pond complex to promote natural regeneration of mangroves. This pilot project has led to the successful rehabilitation of over 2000 hectares of mangroves in other parts of Indonesia, and serves as an example of collaboration and adaptive management that is changing the way Indonesian practitioners address mangrove restoration.
Save the Mangrove Forest in Pitas (Sabah), Eastern Malaysia
The mangrove forests in Pitas, Malaysia are under threat. In less than two years, more than 2,000 acres of mangrove forests have been destroyed to create shrimp ponds, violating the local communities’ rights and environmental regulations. The last 1,000 acres of community mangrove forests are now also targeted for expansion. Please help the indigenous communities in Pitas to protect and conserve their remaining forests.
You can help push for real change by endorsing the letter calling on Musa Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia, to stop the destruction of community mangrove forests in Pitas.
Below you can find a summary of the situation in Pitas and the call for support – it would be much appreciated if you could share this widely with your networks. If you have questions or would like to receive additional information on this case, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
BACKGROUND ON PITAS
In 2010, the Malaysian government launched a new economic initiative aimed at turning Malaysia into a high-income economy by 2020. One of the projects under this plan sought to tackle extreme poverty in the district of Pitas, one of the poorest in Sabah, by establishing the country’s largest shrimp farm and promising job opportunities for local communities. Instead, the project has led to the destruction of the mangrove forests which are their main source of food and income.
So far, all of the communities’ complaints and calls for action have been unanswered. The communities’ hope is that strong international support will lend increased weight to the letter, which they will resubmit to the Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman, along with the list of all endorsements. Please consider giving them your support by signing the letter before 15th February 2017.
For those of you who would like to know more, pls. see the following:
Video on the situation in Pitas
Article in The Ecologist on the situation in Pitas
Call to Action for solidarity with the Pitas communities shared by Land Rights Now
We may have had the solution to carbon sequestration under our noses all along – but have we recognised it too late? Mangrove forests cover only a small percentage of the planet in comparison to other forest types – roughly 1.9% of coastline in the world – but they contain the largest source of carbon sequestration per hectare of land and are a major player in the carbon cycle of the oceans. This means they have high economic value as “blue carbon” – carbon captured in oceans and coastal ecosystems – but around the world they have often been destroyed in the course of coastal development, agricultural and mining activities. Increasingly, however, they are being acknowledged as formidable carbon sinks. But has this acknowledgement come too late? Does the ongoing loss mean we’ve squandered our best last chance to put the brake on global warming? Carbon is stored as biomass in the sediment captured through the growth of mangroves. The carbon produced by its decomposing roots alone is a major contributor to this complex sink. The removal of mangroves adds 10% to the total carbon lost from global tropical deforestation through greenhouse gas emissions.
The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species lists most flora and fauna into seven categories ranging from “Least Concern” to “Extinct”. These categories are based on the current population of the species, the population trend (whether it is increasing or decreasing and how rapidly) and the threats faced by those species. Hunting, habitat loss/degradation and climate change are the three biggest threats to the natural world and these problems are increasing the number of endangered species rapidly. Some of the species associated with Mangroves range from “Vulnerable” to “Critically Endangered”. The list covers fauna that rely on mangroves for either all or part of their lives as well as flora that are part of the Mangroves themselves. Many of these species are closely associated with each other and interlinking ecosystems, meaning the loss of one species can have devastating effects on another. The loss of flora and fauna species and biodiversity is yet another reason why protecting mangrove habitat is so important.
The Bay of Bengal’s basin contains some of the most populous regions of the earth. No less than a quarter of the world’s population is concentrated in the eight countries that border the bay. Approximately 200 million people live along the Bay of Bengal’s coasts and of these a major proportion are partially or wholly dependent on its fisheries. For the majority of those who depend on it, the Bay of Bengal can provide no more than a meagre living: 61% of India’s fisherfolk already live below the poverty line. Yet the numbers dependent on fisheries are only likely to grow in years to come, partly because of climate change. In southern India drought and water scarcity have already induced tens of thousands of farmers to join the fishing fleet. Rising sea levels are also likely to drive many displaced people into the fishing industry.
Plans for a huge power plant situated near the world’s largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh has incited outrage from many Bangladeshi conservationists and citizens. Recently, those in other countries rose up to show their criticism of the project, with a Global Protest Day stirring protests around the world. Environmental NGO representatives estimate thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday, January 7, to show their opposition to the Rampal power plant and their support of the Sundarbans mangrove. The Sundarbans lies along the northern shore of the Bay of Bengal, straddling the border between India and Bangladesh. Encompassing more than 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles), the mangrove is the world’s largest and provides habitat for around 700 animal and 340 plant species. Endangered Bengal tigers roam its forests, as do huge, cow-like animals called gaurs, which are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Its waters are home to the only two remaining species of freshwater dolphins in Asia: the threatened Irrawaddy river dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) and the endangered Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica). Because of its ecological importance, the Sundarbans is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site; it’s also a Ramsar bird conservation area.
It is with both joy and sadness that we announce Fiona Wilmot is leaving MAP’s Board of Directors. After over 10 years of dedicated service on the Board, she is transitioning to MAP’s Board of Advisors. She joined our Board early on when MAP transitioned from a project of Earth Island Institute back in 2006 to become our own 501 (c) 3 non-profit. We at MAP would like to thank Fiona for all the hard work and dedication she has given to MAP over those years, especially during more challenging times when she helped to bolster MAP and keep us on track to conserve and restore mangroves. We thank Dr. Fiona Wilmot for all she has done and does for our blue planet! We wish her great success in the work she is doing, and look forward to working with her in the years to come, seeking her sage advice and helpful hand in working towards a future for a healthy planet that includes mangroves and mangrove communities!
Dear Friend of the Mangroves – Yes, it’s the end of the year, and of course this is an appeal for your generous support for Mangrove Action Project! Since its inception in March 1992 (almost 25 years ago!), MAP has been actively engaged in conserving and restoring the mangroves and people who depend on these unique and vitally important coastal ecosystems. With projects in Asia, Latin America and Africa, in collaboration with our local partners throughout the Global South, MAP has been building capacity of communities to protect and conserve these highly valued “roots of the sea” – the mangrove wetlands. Via our ongoing programs, we are striving to ensure that mangroves will remain to benefit the lives of future generations. I invite you to read more about our most recent successes and to learn about the challenges still facing our planet. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with YOU. Thank You and Happy 2017
Demand of saving the world’s largest mangrove forest and a world heritage site, the Sundarbans, from Rampal power plant has dominated the mass vote arranged by green activists. After weeks of casting votes that began on October 30 and in participation of over 10,000 voters, the result of the mass vote was published at Dhaka University today. Prof Anu Muhammad, member secretary of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports announced the result at Aparajeyo Bangla premises. A majority 90.48 percent of the 10,111 votes cast went against the Rampal power plant. A remaining 8.51 percent voted for the plant that the government says is “for the development of the country”. “Rampal power plant is a curse. There will be no way to stop the pollution once it kicks off,” said Prof Dr Badrul Imam of Dhaka University’s geology department at the programme. Bangladesh government is going ahead with Rampal power plant in collaboration with India against mass protests and serious environment concerns that moved even the Unesco. Meanwhile, the national committee, which is spearheading the save Sundarbans movement, is preparing to launch massive protest programs in Dhaka at November-end to push their agenda.