The MAP team is in the Bahamas! We are here with Waterkeepers Bahamas and Earthcare to teach a mangrove restoration workshop. Mangroves are incredibly important in the Bahamas due to their ability to protect against coastal erosion and provide a buffer against storms. They are home to many marine species that are important to local fisheries and the tourism industry. Mangroves are a nature-based solution that can help to address many of the interconnected challenges we face relating to climate change, biodiversity loss and supporting sustainable livelihoods.

Hurricane Dorian caused huge devastation in Grand Bahama in 2019, destroying over 70% of the mangrove forests on the island. Many community groups, including Waterkeepers and Earthcare, are trying to restore these vital ecosystems. “It is hard to believe the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian until you see it for yourself, there are dead mangrove trees as far as the eye can see” said Laura Michie, our Restoration Manager and CBEMR trainer. “This workshop aims to enhance understanding of mangrove ecology and stakeholder needs to improve project outcomes for mangroves and communities⁠.”

In light of the potential for mangroves to also store huge amounts of carbon, these trees are set to play a pivotal role in many conservation and restoration projects. “It is great to see so many groups working on mangrove restoration, but it’s vital that these projects are done right for them to be successful,” said Laura. Sadly, many attempts to restore these valuable ecosystems fail, largely due to a lack of understanding of underlying ecological and social pressures. Mangrove planting initiatives around the world have met an unfortunately high rate of failure.

Our ‘Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration’ (CBEMR) methodology works with nature and takes into account mangrove ecology and biology to restore degraded mangroves by mimicking natural processes. CBEMR involves local stakeholders from the outset which encourages the mitigation of mangrove stressors and the facilitation of natural regeneration where at all possible. Natural regeneration has the advantage of not only producing a more biodiverse mangrove, which increases its resilience to climate change, but also potentially more economical as it avoids the costs of nurseries and planting out.