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
People have long depended on natural systems for our survival and development, nowhere more visible than in our history of extracting minerals and fuel products. However, we have also started to see the importance of healthy ecosystems for providing essential goods and services, especially as these stocks of natural capital disappear. In response, action is being taken to restore and protect ecosystems, including global efforts aimed at estimating the economic value of the Earth’s natural capital – in hard numbers. Knowing the economic worth of ecosystem services can help ensure that those who rely heavily on ecosystems – from governments to industries and businesses to all of us as citizens – see their value and can account for restoration and conservation in their planning and use. Mangrove ecosystems in particular provide a multitude of goods and services, including: provision of food and clean water (provisioning services), influence climate regulation, soil composition regulation and disaster risk reduction (regulating services), and recreational and spiritual space (cultural services). The natural capital of mangroves thus has immense worth not only in sustaining lives and livelihoods of millions of people along the world’s coasts, but also in real economic terms.
GLOBAL – Join the celebration of a great natural wonder on World Migratory Bird Day! Take action and celebrate, conserve and raise awareness of migratory birds on or around 10 May 2017 by organizing educational programmes, lectures, bird walks, visits to bird-watching sites, competitions, art exhibitions and other public events. For more than ten years now, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) has raised awareness about the need for conservation of migratory birds and their habitats, about the threats they face, their ecological importance, and about the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Every year people across the planet take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes, exhibitions and bird-watching excursions to celebrate WMBD. The main day for the international celebrations is 10 May, but activities can also be undertaken at any time of the year when the regional peak of migrations takes place.
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