Category Archives: Mangrove Curriculum

Mangrove Curriculum

The future of the Sundarbans lies in the hands of its youth

The future of the Sundarbans lies in the hands of its youth

The following is an excerpt adapted from an upcoming article in Aramco World Magazine written by friend of MAP Lou Werner.

The great mangrove forest at the head of the Bay of Bengal known as the Sundarbans has one of most complex river systems in the world, a fine mesh net of distributaries seaward to the south and tributaries from the plains and mountains of the north, including the waters of three of Asia’s largest- the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna – as well as some fifty others.

The natural contour of this feeder system is also affected by manmade interventions like large upstream dams, notably the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges in India; artificially dredged connector canals called “cuts”, such as the Halifax Cut between the Nabaganga and Madhumati Rivers in Bangladesh; and many low-lying artificial rice cultivation islands called polders, made by building high, non-floodable embankments.

The distributaries run heavily in the rainy season and slowly in the dry through a web of 450 creeks, branches, and canals. Some of these are filled with sediment so they flow poorly, and others are temporarily dammed by farmers so they periodically dump large amounts of highly saline water into the rivers’ more brackish flow. In unlucky years, cyclones blow in and wreak their own havoc.

An even more insidious threat to the Sundarbans is global sea level rise, and the people who live nearest the forest increasingly see their lands under threat. Those on the Bangladesh side of the border, where the human and non-human ecosystems are most interlocked, amount to some four million people.

One does not need to be an oceanographer or hydrologist to know much about one’s environment. Experts aplenty can be found on the banks of the Passur River, one of the forest’s major distributaries, at the Badamtala Laudop School’s student-led Mangrove Club. Fourteen year old club president Pronoti Mridha has taken a three-day workshop taught jointly by the Khulna NGO CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network) and the US-based NGO Mangrove Action Project, and she has clearly learned a lot.

Sundarbans Bonbibi

Sundarbans Bonbibi

The annual worship ceremony of Bonbibi, Protectress of the Sundarbans, takes place at forest altars not far from Pronoti’s school. The legend is read before effigies of (from l. to r.) the Devil King disguised as a tiger, the Goddess Bonbibi, the boy honey collector, and the deceitful merchant who offers the boy’s life to the tiger in return for a free hand to exploit the forest. Bonbibi rescues the boy, punishes the merchant, and sends the tiger back into the forest- all in rhymed verse intoned by a priest before the faithful. Photo credits: Nasir Mahmud

For a foreign visitor, she answers correctly a series of rapid-fire questions, “Why might one see a swarm of bees out over the water, far from land? Which birds are resident and which are migratory? Identify the links in the Sundarbans food chain.” Pronoti stops after naming the twenty links that she learned from a classroom exercise, in which twenty students, each representing consecutive prey animals in the food chain, hold a rope at even intervals. If one species disappears, that section of rope falls to the ground, and the entire chain is in danger of extinction. Pronoti ends her examination with a firm answer, “I want to be an entomologist…ants, not bees.”

Pronoti leads a visitor into her club room where thirty school age members are waiting. The questions continue, some with a twist, for those brave enough to step forward. “What is more beautiful, a macharanga or a akash moti?“ (literally, a “colored fish” and a “sky pearl”, both being the names for local insect-eating birds. “What kind of Sundarbans tree is that?” the visitor asks while pointing out the window to a banana plant. One boy corrects his elder and answers confidently, “No sir, bananas do not grow wild in the mangrove forest.”

Pronoti then leads her club members in a dance and song to illustrate what the natural ecosystem means to her parents and neighbors who make their living from its bounty. Rain, flood, forest, fish and fauna are all conjured up through hand gestures and foot stomps. The song ends with a loud round of applause.

The future of the Sundarbans mangrove forest lies in the hands of young people like Pronoti. If she grows up to some job in the worlds of science and policymaking, and if her country listens closely to what it can do to protect its forest and then acts accordingly, then perhaps Bangladesh will survive all the environmental insults that come to it from other parts of the globe.

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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IHOF Summary

IHOF Summary

IHOF 1Date: Aug. 1999
Location: Trang Province, Thailand
Participating Countries: Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Focus: Community-based Coastal Resources ManagementWorkshop Summary (pdf 141 KB)


Date: Dec. 1999
Location: Chilaw, Sri Lanka
Participating Countries: Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Focus: Community-based Coastal Resources Management


Date: Nov. 2000
Location: Trang Province, Thailand
Participating Countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Focus: Community-based Coastal Resources Management; Stopping Destructive Fishing Practices

Final Report (pdf 309 KB)


Date: Nov. 2000
Location: Chilaw, Sri Lanka
Participating Countries: Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Focus: Community-based Coastal Resources Management – South Asia Focus

Final Report (combined with IHOF 5 report) (pdf 2.62)


Date: April 2001
Location: Chilaw, Sri Lanka
Participating Countries: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Honduras, India, Senegal,
Sri Lanka, Thailand
Focus: Community-based Coastal Resources Management, West Africa Focus

Final Report (combined with IHOF 4 report) (pdf 2.62)


Date: May 2003
Location: Cameroon
Participating Countries: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Thailand
Focus: Fuel-efficient Fish Smokehouses for Mangrove Conservation

Workshop Summary (pdf 94 KB)


Date: May 2003
Location: Fortaleza, Brazil
Participating Countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala
Focus: Mangrove Wetlands and Shrimp Cultivation

Workshop Summary (English) (pdf 11 KB)
Workshop Report (Portuguese) (pdf 752 KB)
English Summary of Portuguese Report (pdf 26 KB)



Date: Aug. 2003
Location: Koh Kong Province, Cambodia
Participating Countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Focus: Community Fisheries Management & Mangrove Conservation

Final Report (pdf 2.6 MB)
Final Report (Thai) (pdf 3.23 MB)

IHOF 9  (also EMR 1)

Date: Oct. 2003
Location: Chilaw, Sri Lanka
Participating Countries: India, Sri Lanka
Focus: Bay of Bengal Network Building & Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR)
(also called EMR 1)


Date: May 2004
Location: Kuala Indah, N. Sumatra, Indonesia
Participating Countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand
Focus: Mangrove Awareness, Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) & Sustainable Livelihoods

Final Report (pdf 5 MB)

IHOF 11 (also EMR 4)

Date: February 2007
Location: Arugam Bay, Ampara District, Sri Lanka
Participating Countries: Sri Lanka
Focus: Community-based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) Training (workshop report combined with EMR 3)

Final Report (pdf 3.58 MB)


IHOF 12 (also EMR 5)

Date: July 2007
Location: Amaiteng Village, Simeulue Island, Aceh Province, Indonesia
Participating Countries: Indonesia (All Simeulue Islanders)
Focus: Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR), Sustainable Livelihood Alternatives, Grassroots Policy

Final Report(pdf 4.89 MB)

IHOF 13 (also EMR 6)

Date: June 2009
Location: Khula Gula, Malaysia
Participating Countries: Malaysia (from Sahabat Baka)u
Focus: Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR), Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods
Final Report (pdf 2.0 MB)


IHOF 14 (also EMR 7)

Date: December 2009
Location: Talae Nok Village, Ranong and Krabi
Participating Countries: Thailand (from villages on North Andaman Sea Coast)
Focus: Community-based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) Training

Final Report: (pdf 773 KB)

IHOF Overview

IHOF Overview

In the Hands of the Fishers (IHOF) is a fisherfolk to fisherfolk environmental education program which promotes sustainable development through the empowerment of village leaders to manage coastal resources in a sustainable manner.  IHOF promotes coastal resource conservation and wise use of resources for the improvement of fishers’ livelihoods utilizing a community-based or a co-management arrangement.  The IHOF program engages community fisher leaders from one or more countries to exchange personal experiences in coastal resources management and livelihoods issues.

IHOF involves both local community fisher leaders and grassroots NGOs, and occasionally local government officials, from various nations which contain mangrove forests and face the threats of unsustainable developments, such as industrial shrimp aquaculture and over-fishing by commercial trawlers. The attending participates of a 3 to 5 day workshop exchange ideas, share experiences and skills, and help design and later implement those various options or solutions which are reached during these workshops.

The workshops provide a unique environmental education experience in that they often involve local community leaders from 3-6 countries in one region, with each participant speaking their own language through translation provided by accompanying NGO translators. Most of the local persons have never previously traveled outside their own country. This cross-cultural aspect adds another educational dimension as participants learn the similarities and differences between neighboring countries regarding ways of life and management of resources.  In a small way this has had the unexpected benefit of improving understanding of cultural differences and the realization that the coastal resource problems faced in different nations are often very similar.

To date, 12 IHOF workshops have been held in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with great success and many lessons learned by both the participants and the IHOF organizers.  The workshops are continually being refined and are evolving to becoming moreparticipatory, informal, and topic focused.  There has been an attempt to move the workshop setting from hotels to coastal mangrove centers near the participating communities, or even into the community itself.  There is also a greater focus on learning on field trips to view successful working models, as participants learn best from other fisher leaders through activities in the field, rather than by theory in a formal meeting room setting.

There has also been a realization of the need to incorporate seed funds for follow-up projects, so participants following the IHOF workshop can test newly learned techniques or alternative livelihood models. In summary, the workshops are being sensitively adjusted to make the training experience “In the Hands of the Fishers” more suitable to the needs of the fisher participants.

In the Hand’s of the Fishers (IHOF) Workshops

In the Hand’s of the Fishers (IHOF) Workshops

In the Hands of the Fishers (IHOF) is MAP’s premier program. It was launched in 1999 through a close collaboration with the Yadfon Association of Thailand and the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka.

What is IHOF?

  • A series of workshops designed to bring together village leaders, fisherfolk, and grassroots NGOs from developing nations where mangroves are found;
  • An innovative format which facilitates experience sharing and networking, enhances problem solving, and disseminates solutions and research findings amongst local stakeholders;
  • A toolkit of working alternatives to help enhance Community-based Coastal Resource Management (CBCRM) that is truly in the hands of the fishers;
  • A venue for learning about:

– sustainable methods of mangrove conservation and restoration;

– new ways to effectively add to the economic freedom of coastal peoples.

In addition to the workshops, follow-up projects are undertaken at the participating villages (see MAP’s Toolkit), which then serve as sites or nodes for modeling sustainable, low-intensity development alternatives.

Since 1999, MAP has led 12 regional IHOF workshops, involving 3 or more countries each, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Read more….

IHOF Workshop Reports

Photo Gallery

Coastal Community Resource Centers

Coastal Community Resource Centers

ccrc sri lanka KiralakeleCoastal Community Resource Centers (CCRCs) might be likened to “acupressure points” established at key locations around the world to bring a restorative effect on a global scale. They are creative, multi-purpose facilities built with local communities and their particular setting in mind.

Dedicated to the conservation and protection of mangrove forests, these centers are also important resources for groups concerned with associated marine ecosystems, such as sea grass beds and coral reefs.

MAP and Partner CCRCs

22 Community Resource Centers in 10 countries:

Andaman Islands, Cambodia, Honduras, India (3), Indonesia (8), Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka (4), Thailand, and Timor Leste.


CCRCs are:

  • demonstration sites for community-based coastal resource management
  • training, education, and research centers
  • regional “nodes” for global networking and information and skill sharing
  • meeting centers
  • interpretive centers


Stakeholders served include:

  • local communities
  • local NGOs
  • scientific researchers
  • educators
  • local governments, and
  • tourists



The CCRC concept originated in 2000 in South Asia with MAP’s partner, Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL), and the establishment of the MAP-South Asian Resource Center, based in Pambala. A stone marker (photo) dedicates the CCRC partnership, located near Chilaw, Sri Lanka.Since the first CCRC, MAP has established a network of affiliations with research scientists, NGOs, and community leaders to successfully implement more CCRCs. SFFL-MAP-CCRC-stone


IHOF-9 Welcome In 2003, the MAP-SFFL CCRC served as the setting of the 9th In the Hands of the Fishersworkshop.

Mr. Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Director of SFFL, and Alfredo Quarto, MAP Executive Director, welcome participants to IHOF 9.

Sri Lanka Projects & Partners

Sri Lanka Projects & Partners

EMACE Foundation
EMACE is responsible for mangrove restoration in Cambodia as a part of the Global Nature Fund’s project Mangrove Rehabilitation in Asia- local action and cross-border transfer of knowledge for the conservation of climate, forests and biodiversity

Nagenahiru Foundation
Also partners in Global Nature Fund’s project, Nagenahiru Foundation is working to restore mangrove habitat in Cambodia.
Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL)

MAP’s long term partner, the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL), has been the focus of the Coastal Community Resource Center (CCRC) concept, which has now expanded to other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The SFFL CCRC served as an important training facility for three of MAP’s In the Hands of the Fishers (IHOF) workshops.

SFFL’s Kiralakale Mangrove Resource Center, located in Nonagama, Ambalanthota, southern Sri Lanka.

SFFL has also hosted a MAP Eco-study tour, as well as implementing several alternative livelihood projects.

Sri Lanka is one of the countries in South Asia where mangrove ecosystems have been devastated by the rapid and uncontrolled growth of shrimp aquaculture for export markets. The west coast lagoons of Sri Lanka were especially heavily impacted during the early 1990s.

MAP and SFFL have worked together over the years to raise awareness of the impacts of mangrove loss, especially to the livelihoods of inshore or lagoon fishers. The results of a MAP-assisted study by SFFL (2002), which was supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is available for download:

Study on Better Practices for Shrimp Farming in Chilaw and Puttlam Districts of Sri Lanka (pdf 2.7 MB)

SFFL e-mail: [email protected]
Sewalanka Foundation

MAP-Asia, in partnership with Sewalanka Foundation, held two Sri Lanka workshops on Ecological Mangrove Restoration in February 2007. A national workshop for NGOs and government representatives was followed by a community-based workshop for participants from Ampara District (SE Coast), where Sewalanka is undertaking a mangrove restoration project.

Sri Lanka EMR Workshop Report (pdf 3.5 MB)

Nag logo
ccrc sri lanka Kiralakele

Curriculum History and Development

Curriculum History and Development


The mangrove curriculum is based on a wetlands curriculum which was initially developed in the early 1990s with local school teachers for use in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington State, United States. In 1997, MAP’s education director, Martin Keeley, started adapting the curriculum for tropical mangrove wetland areas.

The mangrove curriculum and teachers resource guide for the Cayman Islands was developed, tested, written, illustrated, and completed during a 3-year time-frame. Guided by Mr. Keeley, the curriculum was adapted from hands-on science-based programs and activities which have been used by educators throughout North America during the past 20 years.

Following standard ecology curriculum principles, the guide provides teachers with 300 pages of information and hands-on activities, covering everything from migrating birds and the properties of water, to what to do and find on a mangrove field trip. It concludes with ways students can help protect and preserve mangrove habitat in their own communities.

Original Travelling Wetlands Roadshow – click here

Green Teacher Story – Developing and Adapting Successful Marine Education Programs for New Settings

April 2007 update of Cayman Island program


Indonesian Teachers at PPLH Puntondo, South Sulawesi, during a four-day workshop learning how to use the Marvellous Mangroves curriculum.

Country Adaptations

Using the Cayman Islands experience as a blueprint, MAP has worked with the following NGOs and government agencies to translate and adapt the curriculum for use in local schools, as well as training teachers in its use:

  • CORALINA – The Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence & Catalina, in San Andres and Providence, COLOMBIA
  • CARTAGENA – FundaciónEcoprogreso, Cartagena, COLOMBIA
  • CODDEFFAGOLF – Comite para la Defense y Desarrollo de la Flora y Fauna del Golfo de Fonseca, HONDURAS
  • PRMG – ProyectoReforestacion de Mangle Guanaja, HONDURAS
  • SFFL – The Small Fisheries Federation of Sri Lanka, SRI LANKA
  • Amigos del Bosque, GUATEMALA
  • FUNDAECO – Foundation for Ecodevelopment and Conservation, GUATEMALA
  • Blue Forests/MAP Indonesia – INDONESIA
  • ZMNNR – Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
  • CMCM – Chinese Mangrove Conservation Network, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
  • SEA – Southern Environmental Association, BELIZE
  • IBB – InstitutoBiomaBrasil – BRAZIL
  • BMRG – Burnett Mary Regional Group, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
  • CLEAN – Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network, BANGLADESH
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Teachers from Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China, studying propagules during a 3-day workshop held in Zhanjiang in April, 2012, for 40 regional teachers.

Mangrove Curriculum for China

Mangrove Curriculum for China (Update April 2011)

MAP’s curriculum development and application program in China received a welcome boost last week when $25,000 was awarded by the Disney Friends for Change/Project Green towards the project.

image_preview“We’d like to give a big thanks to all MAP’s friends and supporters for voting for the project,” says MAP’s Education Director, Martin Keeley. “The contribution will enable us to complete the translation and adaptation of our Teachers’ Guide into Mandarin, for it to be reviewed by environmental educators and specialists in China to ensure its accuracy, and for a workshop to be held in the fall for 50 to 60 teachers.”  The workshop will be held in the southeastern City of Zhanjiang which is the central location of the country’s foremost and only government supported mangrove centre, the Zhanjiang National Mangrove Nature Reserve (ZNMNR).

Work began on the long process of translation and adaptation in the summer of 2009, when Mr. Keeley visited China and the Zhanjiang Reserve at its specific invitation to develop educational programs on the environmental importance on mangrove for local schools. Last summer, a weeklong mini-workshop reviewed translated materials and worked with a core group of 6 teachers and scientists to ensure that the activities and other materials are applicable for Chinese use.

“At that time further adjustments and additions to the content were made, reviewed and translated,” Keeley explained. “Now they have gone out for review and we have almost reached the final stage of the publication. The Disney funds will assist us in achieving publication as well as towards the first major Chinese language workshop to be held in the late fall. To my knowledge, this will be the first education program of its kind to be held in China. One that is directly linked with local schools and the implementation of environmental principles within the country’s education system.”