Friday, December 23, 2011

The Rights of Nature

The proposals developed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia bring together and build upon the progress made in the World Charter for Nature  (1982), the Rio Declaration (1994), the Earth Charter (2000), and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010):


1. In this century, the central challenges of sustainable development are: on the one hand, to overcome poverty and the tremendous inequalities that exist and, on the other hand, reestablish the equilibrium of the Earth system. Both objectives are intrinsically linked and one cannot be reached independently of the other.

2. It is essential to recognize and affirm that growth has limits. The pursuit of unending development on a finite planet is unsustainable and impossible. The limit to development is defined by the regenerative capacity of the Earth’s vital cycles. When growth begins to break that balance, as we see with global warming, we can no longer speak of it as development, but rather, the deterioration and destruction of our home. A certain level of growth and industrialization is needed to satisfy basic needs and guarantee the human rights of a population, but this level of “necessary development” is not about permanent growth, but rather, balance among humans and with nature.

3. New technologies will not allow unending economic growth. Scientific advances, under some circumstances, can contribute to resolve certain problems of development but can’t ignore the natural limits of the Earth system.

4. The main challenge for the eradication of poverty is not to grow forever, but to achieve an equitable distribution of the wealth that is possible under the limits of the Earth system. In a world in which 1% of the population controls 50% of the wealth of the planet, it will not be possible to eradicate poverty or restore harmony with nature.

5. Sustainable development seeks to eradicate poverty in order to live well, not generate wealthy people who live at the expense of the poor. The goal is the satisfaction of basic human needs in order to allow for the development of human capabilities and human happiness, strengthening community among human beings and with Mother Earth.

6. To end poverty and achieve an equitable distribution of wellbeing, the basic resources and companies should be in the hands of the public sector and society. Only a society that controls its principal sources of income can aspire to a just distribution of the benefits needed to eliminate poverty.

7. The so-called “developed” countries must reduce their levels of over-consumption and overexploitation of resources of the world in order to reestablish harmony among human beings and with nature, allowing for the sustainable development of all developing countries.

8. Developing countries should realize their right to development following patterns and paradigms that are distinct from those of developed countries. It is not sustainable or viable for all countries to follow the example of developed countries without causing the collapse of our Earth system. The ecological footprint of the developed countries is between 3 and 5 times larger than the average ecological footprint that the Earth system can sustain without an impact on its vital cycles.

9. Sustainable development can only be achieved from a global perspective and cannot be achieved only in the national level. The wellbeing of a country is only sustainable if it also serves to contribute to the wellbeing of the entire Earth system. The so-called developed countries are still far from reaching sustainable development.

10. Sustainable development should ensure equilibrium among the three pillars – social, economic, and environmental – which are interrelated, preserving the fundamental principle of common but differentiated responsibility.


11. The emerging challenges of the 21st Century are the product of exaggerated ambition and accumulation of wealth concentrated in a few sectors, the exacerbation and combination of different contradictions that were present in the last century. The various crises that exist in the areas of food, energy, the environment, climate, finance, water, and even institutions have reached chronic levels and are feeding off of one another, in some cases to the point of no return.

12. We are living an environmental crisis that, as it deepens, threatens the existence of human beings and life as a whole.  The Earth is a living system and the source of life. It is an indivisible, interdependent and interrelated community comprised of human beings, nature, the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. The Earth system has intrinsic laws that regulate its functioning, articulating the physical, chemical, biological and ecological elements in a manner that makes life possible. Through the term Mother Earth, we express this relationship of belonging to a system and respect for our home.

13. Human activity is altering the dynamics and functioning of the Earth system to a degree never before seen. The capitalist system is the principal cause of the imbalance because it puts the rules of the market and the accumulation of profit above the laws of nature. Nature is not simply a sum of elements, it’s not a source of resources that can be exploited, modified, altered, privatized, commercialized and transformed without any consequences.

14. Human beings and nature are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. It is essential to get beyond the anthropocentric vision. Until now, no species besides Man has been able to modify the characteristics of the planet in such a substantial way and in such a short period of time. It is essential to restore and guarantee the existence, integrity, interrelation, interaction and regeneration of the Earth system as a whole and of all of its components in order to achieve a sustainable development that is capable of confronting the multiple crises facing humanity and the planet today.


15. To reestablish harmony with nature, we must recognize and respect the intrinsic laws of nature and its vital cycles. Not only do human beings have a right to a healthy life, but so do the other components and species belonging to the system we call nature. In an interdependent and interrelated system like the planet Earth, it is not possible to recognize the rights of just the human part of the system without affecting the whole. Just as human beings have rights, the Mother Earth also has the right to exist, the right to maintain its vital cycles, the right to regeneration, the right to be free from structural alteration, and the right to relate to the other parts of the Earth system. In order to reestablish balance with nature, it is necessary to clearly establish the obligations of humans toward nature, and to recognize that nature has rights that should be respected, promoted, and defended.

16. We have to end the system of consumption, waste and luxury. Millions of people are dying of hunger in the poorest parts of the globe, while the richest spend millions of dollars are spent to combat obesity. Developed countries must change their unsustainable patterns of consumption, production, and waste through public policies, regulations, the conscious and active participation of society, This includes promoting ethics that value human beings for what they are, not what they have.

17. It is necessary to guarantee the human right to water, education, health, communication, transportation, energy and sanitation. The provision of these services must be essentially public and based on efficient social management, not private business. The principal goal should be common wellbeing and not private profit, in order to ensure that these services reach the poorest and most marginalized sectors in an equitable manner.

18. States should ensure the right of their populations to proper nutrition by strengthening food sovereignty policies that promote: a) food production by farmers, indigenous peoples and small agricultural producers; b) access to land, water, seeds, credit and other resources for family and community producers; c) the development of social and public enterprises for food production, distribution, and sale that prevent hoarding and contribute to the stability of food prices in domestic markets, thus halting speculative practices and the destruction of local production; d) the right of citizens to define and to know and have the proper information about what they consume, the way their food is produced, and its origins; e) the right to healthy, varied and nutritious food; f) the right to consume what is necessary and prioritize local production; g) practices that contribute to reestablishing harmony with nature, avoiding greater desertification, deforestation, and destruction of biological diversity; h) the promotion of the use of indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge. Food production and commercialization must be socially regulated and cannot be left to free market forces.

19. Without water, there is no life. Humans and all living things have the right to water, but water also has rights. All States and peoples worldwide should work together in solidarity to ensure that loss of vegetation, deforestation, the pollution of the atmosphere and contamination are prevented from continuing to alter the hydrological cycle. These cause desertification, lack of food, temperature increase, sea level rise, migrations, acid rain, and physical-chemical changes that could provoke the loss of genetic and species diversity, damaging the health of ecosystems.

20. Forests are essential to the balance and integrity of planet Earth and a key element in the proper functioning of its ecosystems and the broader system of which we are a part. Thus we cannot consider them as simple providers of goods and services for human beings. The protection, preservation and recuperation of forests is necessary in order to reestablish the balance of the Earth system. Plantations that are planted for profit and promoted as carbon sinks and providers of environmental services are not forests. Forests are not plantations that can be reduced to their capacity to capture carbon and provide environmental services. Native forests and woodlands are essential for the water cycle, the atmosphere, biodiversity, the prevention of flooding, and the preservation of ecosystems. Forests are also home to indigenous peoples and communities. The preservation of forests should be pursued through integral and participatory management plans that should be financed with public funding from developed countries or specific taxes on the sectors with the greatest consumption.

21. It is essential to guarantee a real and effective reduction of greenhouse gases, particularly on the part of the developed countries historically responsible for climate change, in order to stabilize the increase in temperature to 1°C during this century. We must therefore strengthen the Kyoto Protocol with a second period of commitments by developed countries, instead of replacing it with a more flexible voluntary agreement. It is necessary to eliminate carbon market mechanisms and offsets so that real domestic reductions are made within the countries with said obligations. South Africa should not be another Cancun, delaying once again the central issue of substantive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

22. All forms of violence against women are incompatible with sustainable development. Violence done to women in militarily occupied territories, domestic or sexual violence, and discrimination in the workplace and in public spheres are problems we must solve. We must link the issue of the economic role of women to the protection of nature.

23. In order for sustainable development to exist, it is essential to guarantee the full application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

24. Under the framework of common but differentiated responsibilities established in the 1992 Rio Declaration, the so-called developed countries must assume and pay their historical ecological debt for having contributed the most to the deterioration of the Earth system. The payment of this ecological debt by developed countries to developing countries and the sectors most affected among their own populations should replace to the greatest possible degree the ecological damage provoked. Developed countries should transfer financial resources from public sources and also the effective transfer of socially and ecologically appropriate technologies required by sovereign developing countries.

25. The enormous resources dedicated to defense, security and war budgets by developed countries should be reduced. These resources should instead be used to address the effects of climate change and the imbalance with nature. It is inexcusable that 1.5 trillion dollars in public funding are used on these budgets, while, to address the impacts of climate change in developing countries, they want to dedicate just 100 billion dollars from public and private funds as well as market sources.

26. A financial transaction tax should be created to help build a Sustainable Development Fund to attend to the sustainable development challenges faced by developing countries. This financing mechanism should generate new, stable and additional resources for developing countries. A tax of 0.05% applied on a global level has the potential to capture $661 billion per year according to ECLAC.[1] The mechanism of the international financial transaction tax can be built in a voluntary and gradual manner with the participation of those developed and developing countries that wish to participate.

27. The Rio+20 Conference should not create market mechanisms with regard to nature, biodiversity and the so called environmental services: a) The logic of the market and monetary valuation applied to environmental services and biodiversity will generate greater inequality in the distribution of those resources, which are essential for humanity and Mother Earth; b) The establishment of these market mechanisms will deepen the imbalance with nature because they are driven by the search for maximum profits and not harmony with nature; c) It will affect the sovereignty of our States and peoples by generating new forms of property rights over the functions of nature that will be in the hands of investors. These mechanisms are uncertain, volatile and the source of financial speculation given that the bulk of the money they mobilize will remain in the hands of intermediary actors.

28. Sustainable development requires a new international financial architecture to replace the World Bank and the IMF with entities that are democratic and transparent, that respect national priorities and national independence in the application of development strategies. These new institutions should have a majority representation by developing countries and should act according to the principles of solidarity and cooperation, rather than commercialization and privatization.

29. It is essential to create an effective Technology Transfer Mechanism that stems from the demand and needs of the countries of the South for technologies that are socially, culturally, and environmentally appropriate. Said mechanism should not be a “show room” for the sale of technologies by rich countries. In order to promote the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge, it is essential to remove intellectual property barriers so that there might exist a true transfer of environmentally friendly technologies from developed countries to developing countries.

30. Intellectual property rights over genes, microorganisms and other forms of life are a threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, access to medicine and other elements that are essential for the survival of low-income populations. All forms of intellectual property over life should be abolished.

31. Gross Domestic Product is not an adequate means of measuring the development and wellbeing of a society. Thus it is necessary to create indicators for measuring the environmental destruction caused by certain economic activities in order to advance toward sustainable development in harmony with nature, integrating social and environmental aspects that are not aimed at the commercialization of nature and its functions.

32. Respect for the sovereignty of States is essential in the management and protection of nature under the framework of cooperation among States.

33. No identical solutions exist for all peoples. Human beings are diverse. Our peoples have their own unique cultures and identities. To destroy a culture is to threaten the identity of an entire people. Capitalism attempts to homogenize us all to convert us into consumers. There has not been, nor will there ever be, a single model for life that can save the world. We live and act in a pluralistic world, and a pluralistic world should respect diversity, which is itself synonymous with life. Respect for peaceful and harmonious complementarity among the diverse cultures and economies, without exploitation or discrimination against any single one, is essential for saving the planet, humanity, and life.

34. Peace is essential for sustainable development. There is no worse aggression against humanity and Mother Earth than war and violence. War destroys life, and it has a particularly strong impact on the poorest and most vulnerable. Nobody and nothing is safe from war. Those that fight suffer, as do those that are forced to go without bread in order to feed the war. Wars squander life and natural resources.

35. An International Tribunal of Environmental and Climate Justice must be established to judge and sanction crimes against nature that transcend national borders, violating the rights of nature and affecting humanity.

36. To achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to promote public associations, public-public associations among actors in different States, public-social associations among different social sectors, and public-private associations.

37. The problems affecting humanity and nature require the exercise of global democracy through the development of mechanisms of consultation and decision-making such as referendums, plebiscites, or popular consultations so that the citizens of the world as a whole may speak.

38. Sustainable development is incompatible with all forms of imperialism and neocolonialism. In order to stop imperialism and neocolonialism, it is essential to end the imposition of conditionalities, military interventions, coups and blackmail.

39. The collective global response that is needed to confront the crisis we face requires structural changes. We must change the system – not the climate or the Earth system. In the hands of capitalism, everything is converted into merchandise: water, earth genomes, ancestral cultures, justice, ethics and life. It is essential to develop a pluralistic system based on the culture of life and harmony among human beings and with nature; a system that promotes sustainable development in the framework of solidarity, complementarity, equity, social and economic justice, social participation, respect for diversity, and peace.


40. At a global scale, the supposed objective of the Green Economy of disassociating economic growth from environmental deterioration is not viable. Those that promote the Green Economy promote a three-dimensional capitalism that includes physical capital, human capital, and natural capital (rivers, wetlands, forests, coral reefs, biological diversity and other elements). For the Green Economy, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the energy crisis share a common characteristic: the failed allocation of capital. As a result, they try to treat nature as capital – “natural capital.”

41. The Green Economy considers it essential to put a price on the free services that plants, animals and ecosystems offer to humanity in the struggle for the conservation of biodiversity, water purification, pollination of plants, the protection of coral reefs and regulation of the climate. For the Green Economy, it is necessary to identify the specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity and assign them a monetary value, evaluate their current status, set a limit after which they will cease to provide services, and concretize in economic terms the cost of their conservation in order to develop a market for each particular environmental service. For the Green Economy, the instruments of the market are powerful tools for managing the “economic invisibility of nature.”

42. One of the examples most cited by the Green Economy is the initiative known as REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which consists of isolating and measuring the capacity of the forest to capture and store carbon dioxide in order to issue certificates for greenhouse gas emissions reductions that can be commercialized and acquired by companies in developed countries that cannot meet their mitigation commitments. In this way, the developing countries will end up financing the developed countries.

43. It is wrong to attempt to fragment nature into “environmental services” with a monetary value for market exchange. We should not put a price on the capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks, nor promote their commercialization as does REDD. The market for carbon credits based on forests will lead to: a) noncompliance with effective emission reduction commitments by developed countries; b) the bulk of resources being appropriated by intermediaries and financial entities and rarely benefitting countries, indigenous peoples and forests themselves; c) the generation of speculative bubbles based on the sale and purchase of said certificates; and d) the establishment of new property rights over the capacity of forests to capture carbon dioxide, which will clash with the sovereign rights of States and the indigenous peoples that live in forests. The promotion of market mechanisms based on the economic needs of developing countries is a new form of neocolonialism.

44. The postulates promoted under the Green Economy are wrong. The current environmental and climate crisis is not a simple market failure. The solution is not to put a price on nature. Nature is not a form of capital. It is wrong to say that we only value that which has a price, an owner, and brings profits. The market mechanisms that permit exchange among human beings and nations have proven incapable of contributing to an equitable distribution of wealth. The Green Economy should not distort the fundamental principles of sustainable development.

45. Not all that glitters is gold. Not all that is labeled “green” is environmentally friendly. We must use the precautionary principle and deeply analyze the different “green” alternatives that are presented before proceeding with their experimentation and implementation.

46. Nature cannot be subject to manipulation by new technologies without consequences in the future. History shows us that many dangerous technologies have been released in the market before their environmental or health impacts are known, or before their social and economic impacts on poor people and developing countries are understood. This is currently the case with genetically modified organisms, agrochemicals, biofuels, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. These technologies should be avoided.

47. Geoengineering and all forms of artificial manipulation of the climate should be prohibited, for they bring the enormous risk of further destabilizing the climate, biodiversity and nature.

48. It is necessary to create public and multilateral mechanisms within the United Nations to evaluate in an independent manner and without conflict of interest the potential environmental, health, social, and economic impacts of new technologies before they are spread. This mechanism must involve transparency and social participation by potentially affected groups.

49. “Green” capitalism will bring about natural resource grabbing, displacing humanity and nature from the essential elements needed for their survival. The drive for profit, instead of reestablishing harmony within the system, will provoke even greater imbalances, concentrations of wealth, and speculative processes.


50. The institutional architecture of the United Nations for sustainable development should establish a structure to promote balanced and equal treatment of the three pillars: the economic, social, and environmental. This institutional architecture should articulate and coordinate the different authorities involved in order to avoid overlapping efforts and achieve effective coordination.

51. The Economic Pillar should determine the sustainable development agendas of economic and commercial organizations such as the WTO, the World Bank and IMF. Without an effective integration among these entities, the institutional framework will be unable to define the economic policies necessary to achieve sustainable development while respecting national priorities and national independence and with transparent and socially acceptable management.

52. The Social Pillar should coordinate entities such as ILO, WHO, UNESCO, UN-Women, the Indigenous Permanent Forum and others in order to improve their actions and impacts in the struggle for the eradication of poverty.

53. The Environmental Pillar should stem from a better coordination and implementation of the different Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD, CBD) and the incorporation of all environmental issues including water.

54. The coordination of these three pillars should be under the auspices of a Council for Sustainable Development that is created on the basis of what is now the Commission on Sustainable Development. It should be at the level of a Council that would function as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, guaranteeing a fundamental role for States, coordinating with the Economic and Social Council, and with regular functioning to follow up on and implement the goals and mechanisms agreed and resolutions adopted.

55. Developing countries should have a majority representation in said Council, and its functioning should be democratic and transparent.

56. The Council for Sustainable Development should include mechanisms for the participation of civil society and non-governmental organizations especially organizations representing workers, indigenous peoples, farmers, small agricultural producers and fishermen, women, youth and consumers. The private sector cannot have the same amount of influence as the social sectors, given that, by definition, its goal is to create profit rather than social wellbeing. The linking of the Sustainable Development Council with the different social actors should occur through a Consultative Group.
Michele Maynard
Policy & Advocacy Officer
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
Continental Secretariat

Thursday, September 29, 2011

MangroveWatch post workshop update

Greetings MangroveWatch Mangrovers:

Thanks again for your enthusiastic participation in the MangroveWatch Workshop in Krabi. It was a great pleasure to meet a number of old friends again and make new contacts who are engaged in mangrove research and conservation.

As I had mentioned at the workshop closing, the workshop is not the end, but was just the seed to start MangroveWatch - Thailand hub. In our program outline we had called our gathering a "training workshop", but in reality it was more of an "Introduction to Mangrove Watch". The next step for MangroveWatch - Thailand to become functional would involve the formation of local MangroveWatch hubs, consisting of community representatives, government agencies, NGO’s and community coordinating groups and scientists from local research institutes. Additionally, local scientists would require in-depth training on data collection using videography and the analysis of data at the proposed hubs.

During the final group discussion there appeared to be a consensus and real interest in the formation of Mangrove Watch Hub, on the both the Eastern seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand, and in the South on the Andaman Sea coast. This sentiment was echoed at an IUCN BCR workshop in Chantaburi, attended by Norm and Jock following the Krabi workshop. The immediate next step would be to secure funding so that a MW Training Workshop for community members and NGOs involved in data collection and could take place in early 2012 at the earliest, with trainers from MW Australia coming to Thailand to lead this event. IUCN has committed to a follow-up workshop led by Dr Norm in Duke, for potential science hub members in conjunction with coastal week, early December 2011.

We were very pleased to observe lots of informal networking occurring amongst participants at the workshop, so we're happy to attach the workshop participant contact list so that momentum of information exchange can continue. A MW workshop report will be produced in both Thai and English and will be sent out to all of you when it's ready.

I can't get over just how lucky we were with the weather during the workshop, as it rained all day and night on the 9th, 10th & 11th. Serious flooding is now in many areas of the country at the moment.

Best Regards,
Jim Enright
(Mangrove Action Project)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

MAP Staff Attends Mangroves for Coastal Area Management Conference in India

PHOTO: left to right - Dr. (Mrs.) K. Sujatha, (Dept. of Marine Living Resources, Andhra University, India) Dr. Sonjai Havanond (Deputy Managing Director at Sirindhorn International Environmental Park, Thailand), Jim Enright (MAP), Dr. Peter Hogarth (University of York, U.K. & author of the book "The Biology of Mangroves")
Jim Enright, MAP Asia Coordinator, was invited to attend an international conference “Mangroves for Coastal Area Management” during August 7-10 organized by the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), in Chennai, India. The conference was organized to commemorate the International Year of Forestry, and organized by MSSRF in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India and Society for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (SICOM), Government of India.

The conference was attended by invited scientists, researchers, conservation experts and policy makers from India and abroad who deliberated on the current status of mangroves in selected countries, community and innovative initiatives in the conservation and sustainable use of mangrove wetland systems. The conference also discussed and identified future research areas and policy interventions, in the emerging scenario of climate change, sea level rise and global warming, so as to ensure saving lives and livelihoods of coastal fishing and farming communities.
Following broad areas were discussed:
• Mangrove Resources – Status, threats and opportunities
• Mangroves and Livelihood: People centric approaches in mangrove conservation, restoration and management
• Ongoing research programmes and future research needs in light of climate change and sea level rise (Systems biology, physiology, genetics, biotechnology, GIS and modelling, ICT etc)
• Coastal zone regulation and wetlands management – Issues and perspectives and policy implications
Jim made a powerpoint presentation on Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) in the Mangroves and Livelihoods session which was well very received. During the field trip to Pichavaram mangroves there was an opportunity to visit a MSSRF initiated Integrated Mangrove Fishery Farming System funded through Mangroves for the Future (MFF) small grant support. The low intensity system will support fish rearing along with prawns and crabs without any artificial feeding while increasing the mangrove buffer greenbelt.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Friends of Redmanglar International and the mangrove ecosystem

July 26 is coming, the International Day for Mangrove Protection, so we took the oportunity to launch and share with you this year's motto:
We reaffirm our opposition to the one industry that is most destructive to and that negatively impacts the mangrove ecosystem.
Since many years, communities and traditional mangrove users, as well as social and environmental organizations, have seen with great concern the faulty processes that intend to certify industrial shrimp as responsible aquaculture.

Industrial shrimp farming is responsible for the loss of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems, for the destruction and degradation of livelihoods of local communities and traditional users of mangroves, criminalization and violation of human rights, loss of food sovereignty, and loss of natural buffers against climate change.

So this July 26, we call you to unite our voices for our mangroves, our life, our future, and against the destruction, degradation and injustice generated by the industrial shrimp farming!
We invite you to join, disseminate and to endorse our slogan and be alert to materials and information we will send as part of this campaign.
Our mangroves are life, sovereignty, protection and sustenance, for that we say:

Carlos Salvatierra
Executive Secretary
Redmanglar International
Executive Secretary
Guatemala City, Central America Office.
Instituto de Desarrollo Rural IDR
28 calle 17-37 zona 12
Condominio El Rosario
Tel. (502) 2476-8663

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mangroves concentrate highest amounts of CO2 in the Amazon, says research

Translation of Report Posted at 11:50 on June, 2nd 2011 (jc/Recife) VIEW ORIGINAL

RIO - A new research released on Wednesday (1st) by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reveals that the highest concentrations of soil carbon in the Amazon are in mangrove areas, currently threatened by changes of preservation rules in the Forest Code, which have already passed by the Chamber. In these locations the concentration of carbon by up to one meter depth reaches 205 tons per hectare. The average for the soil in the Amazon is of 95 t/ha.

The result surprised IBGE technicians, who predicted a higher concentration of carbon in areas covered by dense forests. "It was a surprise", said geographer Rosa Garrido. For her, the study underscores the strategic importance of mangrove conservation and its fundamental role for the climate equilibrium.

It was also found a high concentration of carbon in campinarana areas, a typical vegetation from the upper Negro River. Today, there is no legal protection for campinaranas. The mangroves are classified as Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs), but they would be completely unprotected if the changes in the Forest Code are allowed. During the presentation of the geo-statistical publication of Natural Resources of the Amazon, the president of IBGE, Eduardo Nunes, said that this study occurred at an "appropriate time".

It is estimated that in 2002, the reference year of the study, there were approximately 48 billion tons of soil carbon and 45 billion tons of carbon in the remaining vegetation in the region. In the specific case of mangroves, which have higher concentrations of carbon, but occupy a relatively small portion of the area, the stock was of 280 million tons in the soil.

"On average, the world emits 10 billion tons of carbon derived from CO2 per year.", says forester André Almeida. One of the main merits of the study, he says, is the reconstitution of the original stocks (pre-colonization) of the Amazon natural resources. "The stock of carbon that we originally would have in vegetation, of 51 billions of tons, is equivalent to five years of what is being delivered around the world", added André. By 2002, six billions of tons of carbon were removed from that stock by deforestation. In this country, it is estimated that 75% of the CO2 emissions are derived from changes in land use. According to André, the model used in the study is consistent with the emission inventories of greenhouse gases in Brazil. "The stock of carbon can be transformed into carbon credits. Big money is traded in the international market. And a question remains. What is it worth? What do we have in terms of carbon credits in the Amazon? It is important to keep the forest standing", says Trento Natali Filho, another IBGE technician.


According to the publication, at least 2.6 billion trees have been eliminated from the beginning of the occupation of the Amazon by non-indigenous peoples until 2002. In wood volume, it means 4.7 billion cubic meters. Almost half of that loss (1.2 billion trees) occurred in Pará state, The area deforestated by man's action represents 15.3% of the original vegetation of the biome. The losses of trees are concentrated in the east (Pará, Maranhão and Tocantins) and south (Mato Grosso and Rondônia).

Livestock appears as the main responsible for the alteration of the original soil coverage, representing 51.7% of the deforested area. Secondary vegetation (which arises naturally after the abandonment of deforested areas) accounted for 32.1%, and agriculture, to 15.2%. The Amazon Forest is divided into four formation types: Tropical Rain Forests (Dense and Open), and Seasonal Forests (Deciduous and Semideciduous). The Semidecidual Forests, concentrated in the states of Maranhão and Mato Grosso, the so-called arc of deforestation, were the most proportionately affected: It had changed 27.2% of its original area, which places them in situation of high risk. They occur in only 5.4% of the region.

The IBGE adds that "any program to protect the diversity of Amazonian forests should pay particular attention to the seasonal forests, especially when they are in areas of expanding agrosilvipasture. "In absolute terms, the devastation is concentrated in the Dense Rain Forest: 60% of the removed trees in 2002, the highest concentration was in the Amazonas state (7.4 billion), followed by Pará (5.2 billion) and Mato Grosso (1.7 billion).

By Felipe Werneck (Agência Estado)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Environmentalists denounce depredation of mangroves

The following article was submitted to Mangrove Action Project, and has been translated below for our English readers

COLIMA, Colombia, 5th of May (approx.) - Despite all the scientific recognition that mangroves provide a huge diversity of environmental resources and services, which are translated in social well-being, development, investment and job vacancies, the destruction of mangroves in Mexico still persists - have warned environmental groups, such as Red Manglar Internacional, Red Manglar Mexico and Bios Iguana.
In the study "La defensa del manglar en México" ("The defense of mangroves in Mexico"), those organizations denounce that the Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) has been involved in the authorization of underhand projects on ecosystem rehabilitation during the last decade, without sufficient technical substantiation or respect to legal instruments, and so causing environmental destruction.
Moreover, they reject the idea that this dependence promotes the protection of mangroves as the international forums. "Semarnat has taken stepts to weaken regulations that protect these ecosystem, becoming an institution that promotes and defends private initiative related to tourism, industries and ports", they accuse.
This situation, they add, has led the fight for the defense of Mexican mangroves to be increasingly held in international courts, "for lack of security in Mexico, respect to the human rights and the right to the exercise of law".
A recent phenomenon towards social organizations that question the insuficient technical and legal justification to approve changes in land use and to authorize statements of environmental impacts, they expose, has been the governmental strategy to incorporate as consultants academics from public universities who finally agree to endorse the destruction of mangroves.
"Nothing ensures that the government action to previlege private interests through the permanent tactics of social disinformation, lack of transparency, corruption, and criminalization of pacific and legal social mobilization for ecosystems won't persist", they state.
Despite having 11 thousand kilometers of coastline, they refer, Mexico has no laws to define management and exploitation specifically, a situation that makes this area vulnerable against tourism development, ports, real estate, aquaculture and high-impact and risk industry.
"This lack of definition of specific public policies and legal framework to define decision-making, creates a greater chance of environmental destruction, dispossession of land to peasants and indigenous peoples, as well as a permanent impairment to towns and cities", say environmental organizations.
According to figures from the National Commission on Use and Knowledge of Biodiversity (CONABIO), cited in the study, in 2009 the recorded mangrove area in Mexico was of 770,057 hectares, distributed in the 17 states with coastline in the country.
Yucatán Peninsula region has 55% of these ecosystems, with 423,751 hectares, followed by the North Pacific region, with 24.5%, ie 188,900 hectares; the Gulf regions of Mexico and South Pacific have 11 and 8.6% respectively, while in the Pacific Centre there is only 0.9% of the mangrove area.
In their study, the environmental groups present a case series of projects for tourism, ports, industris and real estate that showed anomalies in its approval process, in the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Defend Honduran Environmental Efforts

Dear Readers

It appears the military in Honduras has taken over the functions and the funding for forest management and conservation from the country’s legally representative office of the Instituto Forestal Areas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre (ICF) (Created by order # 98–2007 (Diario “La Gaceta” # 31544 del 26 de febrero del 2008)) disqualifying those of the Armed Forces. Yet on April 12, 2011, the National Congress approved a measure to authorize the Executive Branch through the Secretary of State for National Defense, the creation of a Special Unit in the Area of Environment and Forestry consisting of two thousand (2,000) military soldiers, It is estimated that the budget to maintain this unit will exceed 150 million Lempiras per year. This sum apparently does not to exist in the coffers of the state and will need to be extracted from the impoverished Honduran people and from international environmental assistance sources as justified by the decree.

Please read the below sample letter and use it as a template or draft your own, expressing your concern that Honduras not make a mockery of its environmental efforts.

Send you email to

Estimada Sr. R. Sanchez at

Sample Letter to President Lobo Sosa below


Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa

President of the Republic of Honduras.

Dear Mr. President off Honduras,

I am the executive director of a global network called Mangrove Action Project based in Port Angeles, Washington. We represent over 450 NGO and 300 scientists from over 60 nations, working towards conservation and restoration of our planets mangrove forests.

I am writing you now because I have read a disturbing article concerning loss of forest protection in Honduras. It appears the military in your nation has taken over the functions and the funding for forest management and conservation from your legally representative office of the Instituto Forestal Areas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre (ICF) (Created by order # 98–2007 (Diario “La Gaceta” # 31544 del 26 de febrero del 2008)).

We at MAP are urging you to re-empower the ICF so that it can do its lawful job and fulfill its intended responsibilities in protecting your country's forests and decreasing the problems of forest fires contributing to air pollution and climate change.

Although ICF was originally created to carry out work of administration, conservation, and forest management, including setting up special protected areas and wildlife reserves, their ability to function has been seriously compromised by the military takeover of their functions., one of which is the very relevant one today of prevention of and fighting against forest fires.

Because of serious lack of funds, the ICF never had the necessary budget, and some part of that intended budget was transfered to the armed forces (FFAA) for more than three years of operation. Please use your powers to ensure that the ICF is able to satisfactorily meet with its constitutional responsibilities and retrieve the budget that they have been authorized to use by the government. Please place back in the hands of the ICF these powers that the armed forces took away.

Towards a Sustainable Future,

Alfredo Quarto,
Executive Director & Co-Founder
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA, 98362

Saturday, April 16, 2011

MAP's curriculum receives recognition

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.
"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 locat ion 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 translati on and adaptation in the summer of 2009, when Mr. Keeley visited China and the Zhanjiang Reserve at its specific invitation to develop e ducational 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 t eachers 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."

MAP Announces new children's art contest

A fun and exciting Art Contest for children 6 to 14 years old

We invite all primary school children from tropical and sub-tropical nations, and whose schools are located near mangroves, to create art telling us "why mangroves are important to me and my community".

Selected winners will be published in a 2012 calendar to be distributed internationally to raise awareness of mangrove forest ecology. This creative contest aims to promote appreciation and awareness of mangrove forests, and to encourage and listen to creative voices of children living in mangrove areas.

Help us launch this program in your school by contacting science and art teachers in your area and encourage them to work together on this fun and innovative project.

What kind of art can be submitted?

Technique: Paint, color pencil, ink, collage, pastel, crayons, etc

Dimensions: Canvas, or paper, 45 cms x 30 cms. (18 in. x 12 in)
The Art Work should be in a format horizontal (long length across, the shorter length vertical), in order to fit on the calendar page. (We had received wonderful art work in a vertical format, but sadly were unable to use it. )

Artist Identification: On the back of each art work please write in English: the full name and age of the artist, the school name, address, city or town, country, and title of art work.

Age Limit: from 6-13 years old
Mailing instructions: The artwork has to be mailed in a small tube, such as the ones for mailing posters. Make sure the art is sent in certified or registered mail to MAP, PO Box 1854, Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA.

How will entries be judged?

Each school will hold its own exhibition and select 3 or more winners in art. Winning entries will be collected in each country by a participating NGO and then mailed to MAP's office to be judged by a team of artists.

What are the prizes
-1st Prize will receive a certificate + calendar and the recognition of being published in an International calendar with global distribution.
-2 nd Prize '' ''
-3 rd Prize '' ''

School will receive 2 Calendars
NGOs will receive10 Calendars.

When is the deadline?

Please, we must receive the artwork in MAP's office by the end of July, 2011.

Mailed to: PO Box 1854,.Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA
Please mail in a tube or flat in a box, but not folded!

Who do I contact?.

Please let us know if your school plans to participate by contacting:
Monica Gutierrez-Quarto,
Calendar Project Coordinator
c/o Mangrove Action Project
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA
tel./ fax (360) 452-5866
e-mail: and

All entries selected at the national level should be submitted to the same address.
Your local NGO contact is: (Please fill this in.)


Some suggested Field Trip and Classroom Lessons

It is suggested that this contest could coincide with an Associated Mangrove Ecology Educational Project with the children. This lesson will highlight the importance of mangrove forests for the environment, for their community, for fishermen and/or for the associated mangrove forest fauna. The intent of this educational project is to help the participating children better comprehend the important role mangroves play in their lives and for their communities.

1- Information and guidance in the classroom, aided by text books, mangrove curriculum, slides and videos.

2.- Eco-Study Field trips for firsthand observation with the teacher and/ or a local resource person, where they can observe the myriad forms of life that inhabit the mangroves, such as the many colored birds, fish, crabs, mollusks, reptiles, mammals, and insects, while also learning about the unique characteristics of the associated mangrove plants and trees.

3.- During, or after, the field trips, the children can hold interviews with their parents or local fishermen about the mangroves in their region, learning more about the history of the area's mangrove forest, as well as why they are important and what the problems are when the mangroves are lost.

4 - As a result of this research, the children may wish to create artwork for the 2012 calendar art competition.

Yours sincerely,

Monica Alicia Paz Gutierrez-Quarto,
Calendar Project Coordinator
Mangrove Action Project

Carbon in mangroves - Donato et al 2011

When referencing the article regarding carbon sequestration in MAP News ISSUE #261, we want to emphasize certain salient points that reinforce MAP's position since our founding in 1992:

We at MAP would like to urge our readers to review the referenced article on the importance of mangroves in sequestering and especially in below ground storage of carbon. The following excerpted points are especially relevant to MAP's stance on mangroves since our founding in 1992:

"Tropical wetland forests (for example, peatlands) contain organic soils up to several metres deep and are among the largest organic C reserves in the terrestrial biosphere11–13. Peatlands’ disproportionate importance in the link between land use and climate change has received significant attention since 1997, when peat fires associated with land clearing in Indonesia increased atmospheric CO2 enrichment by 13–40% over global annual fossil fuel emissions11. This importance has prompted calls to specifically address tropical peatlands in international climate change mitigation strategies7,13.

Overlooked in this discussion are mangrove forests, which occur along the coasts of most major oceans in 118 countries, adding ∼30–35% to the global area of tropical wetland forest over peat swamps alone4,6,12. Renowned for an array of ecosystem services, including fisheries and fibre production, sediment regulation, and storm/tsunami protection2–4 , mangroves are nevertheles declining rapidly as a result of land clearing, aquaculture expansion, overharvesting, and development2–6. A 30–50% areal decline over the past half-century1,3 has prompted estimates that mangroves may functionally disappear in as little as 100 years (refs 1,2). Rapid twenty-first century sea-level rise has also been cited as a primary threat to mangroves14, which have responded to past sea-level changes by migrating landward or upward15 ..."

"Carbon emissions from land-use change in mangroves are not well understood. Our data suggest a potential for large emissions owing to perturbation of large C stocks. The fate of below-ground pools is particularly understudied, but available evidence suggests that clearing, drainage, and/or conversion to aquaculture—aside from affecting vegetation biomass—also decreases mangrove soil C significantly16,22,26–28. In upland forests, the top 30 cm of soil are generally considered the most susceptible to land-use change9; however in wetland forests, drainage and oxidation of formerly suboxic soils may also influence deeper layers29. .."

From this study reference is made to the following as a recent estimate of present global mangrove area:

"Coupled with published ranges of mangrove deforestation rate (1–2%; refs 1,4) and global area (13.7–15.2 million ha; refs 4,6),"

This must reflect that recent study that put present area of mangroves at 12% less than the previous accepted FAO estimates of 15 million ha. This study on Carbon footprint regarding various wetland and upland forests types provides excellent reference material for better reflection upon the truly significant role coastal wetlands, including mangroves and peatlands play in combating climate change, and how their rapid rates of loss pose grave threats to life on our planet.

A final point the study cites concerning the resilience of mangroves to adapt to rising sea levels is sobering, and this point was raised by MAP's director at the "Mangroves As Fish Habitat" conference in Miami, Florida nearly a decade ago:

"In addition to direct losses of forest cover, land-use activities will also impact mangrove responses to sea-level rise14,15. Man- groves have been remarkably persistent through rapid sea-level rises (5–15 mm yr−1 ) during the late Quaternary Period (0–18,000 yr bp) because of (1) landward migration, and (2) autogenic changes in soil-surface elevation through below-ground organic matter production and/or sedimentation15. Under current climate trends, sea level is projected to rise 18–79cm from 1999–2099 (higher if ice-sheet melting continues accelerating)8,30, implying a period- averaged rate of ∼1.8–7.9 mm yr−1 , notwithstanding local variations and temporal nonlinearities. Although this rate is not unprecedented, it is unclear yet whether mangroves are currently keeping pace with sea levels14,15. Anthropogenic influences could constrain future resilience to sea-level rise through coastal developments that impede inland migration (for example, roads, infrastructure), upland land uses that alter sediment and water inputs (for example, dams, land clearing), and mangrove degradation that reduces below-ground productivity14. This synergy of land use and climate change impacts presents additional uncertainties for the fate and management of coastal C stores... "

"...Because land use in mangroves affects not only standing stocks but also ecosystem response to sea-level rise, maintaining these C stores will require both in situ mitigation (for example, reducing conversion rates) as well as facilitating adaptation to rising seas. The latter challenge is largely unique to management of coastal forests, calling for watershed-scale approaches, such as landscape buffers for accommodating inland migration where possible, maintenance of critical upstream sediment inputs, and addressing degradation of mangrove productivity from pollution and other exogenous impacts14,15."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Book Let Them Eat Shrimp by Kennedy Warne!

Coal Climate Showdown in Bangladesh

The bulldozers are warming up: any moment now a massively destructive coal mine could be approved in northwest Bangladesh that would displace tens of thousands of families, destroy vital farmland, and devastate mangrove forests that protect the climate-fragile country from rising sea levels.

A movement of local protesters has stopped the mine once before, and this week they bravely blocked major roads in a desperate bid for the government's attention. But the global consortium backing the mine has launched a massive lobbying effort to win, flying MPs to Europe for VIP coal tours. Wikileaks cables even show the US ambassador lobbying for them.

Now, the movement has appealed to our global network for solidarity -- to raise a worldwide outcry to counter the international financiers and stop this mine. Prime Minister Hasina has spoken out against the mine, but she is under enormous pressure to approve it. Let's build a massive petition urging the Prime Minister to side with her citizens and their environment by rejecting the devastating mine -- local organisations will deliver it to the Prime Minister and consortium if we reach 300,000 signatures.

Please sign the petition!

To Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina:

We call on you to listen to the people of Bangladesh and protect people and planet by rejecting Global Coal Management Resources’ proposal for open-pit coal mining in Phulbari.

World Bank’s forest climate fund slammed for sidelining indigenous peoples’ rights and failing to protect forests

DALAT, Vietnam (23 March 2011) – A new report launched today at the 8th meeting of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) reveals that the Bank is not fulfilling its promises to protect the rights of forest peoples. Smoke and Mirrors: a critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and FERN exposes the World Bank’s failure to uphold its commitments on human rights and its engagement in never-ending changes to its social and environmental policies, weakening its accountability to affected communities and the public. Co-author of the report, Francesco Martone, FPP policy advisor, said:

The FCPF is backsliding on its social commitments, using a smokescreen of constantly changing standards and guidance notes that pay lip service to forest peoples’ rights, governance and benefit-sharing without clear binding rules that would hold the Bank and recipient governments accountable. The whole question of which standards apply to the FCPF has just become more complicated as the Fund now plans to use different international agencies to implement its projects...

The FCPF is administered by the World Bank. It is one of the main international climate initiatives set up to fund developing country schemes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). The report finds serious faults in government proposals seeking FCPF funding for planning and preparation activities in support of REDD schemes. It finds that while proposals for monitoring and measuring forest carbon are well-advanced, plans for activities that could actually reduce deforestation, such as clarifying and securing land rights and dealing with corruption and weak governance in the forest sector, are poor. Kate Dooley, FERN’s policy advisor, said:

In none of the eight REDD preparation plans developed by the governments of Panama, Guyana, Peru, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Nepal and Indonesia are land rights adequately addressed or existing land conflicts acknowledged. Proposals for governance reform are often limited to setting up new institutions to oversee forest carbon trading, at the expense of legal reform, including land tenure.

Many of the governments applying for funds have laws and national policies which are contrary to their international obligations to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Smoke and Mirrors shows that these shortcomings are ignored in REDD “readiness” proposals and, more worryingly, indigenous peoples and local communities are often unjustly blamed for deforestation. Onel Masardule of the Foundation for the Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge in Panama said:

The FCPF must uphold indigenous peoples’ rights in line with its commitments. FCPF decisions on financing for national proposals for REDD must respect the demands of indigenous peoples without whom forest and climate schemes will not work. Full respect for our right to free, prior and informed consent is essential, yet this fundamental safeguard is missing in FCPF policies and World Bank safeguards...

In Peru the government plans for REDD have attracted heavy criticism from indigenous peoples’ organisations for failing to address land conflicts and outstanding territorial claims. Daysi Zapata, Vice President of AIDESEP in Peru said:

The FCPF says that all its activities will ensure that countries meet their obligations to respect the rights of indigenous peoples, yet state plans in Peru are not respecting our collective rights, including our rights to territories and free prior and informed consent. We have not travelled for two days to reach Vietnam for nothing: we have come here to obtain firm guarantees that our rights will be respected and that the FCPF lives up to its promises....

The authors of the report are further concerned that the FCPF intends to move ahead with plans to make agreements to pay governments from its Carbon Fund before countries have completed the preparatory work that is required to ensure that future actions to curb forest emissions are fully sustainable.

The report concludes that the FCPF Carbon Fund and finance for emission reduction agreements must not move ahead until readiness actions are completed and the social and environmental safeguards are strong enough to uphold human rights and protect the environment.

The full report is available at:


In Vietnam - Conrad Feather: 0084 1254154032

Daysi Zapata: via 0084 1254154032

Onel Masardule:

UK: Kate Dooley +44 7824687376

Italy: Francesco Martone +39 3384051174

Note to readers:

FERN is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) created to keep track of the European Union’s involvement in forests and coordinate NGO activities at the European level. Our work centres on forests and forest peoples’ rights and the issues that affect them such as trade and investment and climate change. All of our work is done in close collaboration with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world. The name FERN was chosen because ferns are one of the few species that grow in all forests.

Forest Peoples Programme is a non-governmental human rights organisation that works in South and SE Asia, Central Africa and South and Central America and internationally to support the rights of peoples who live in forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. Our work aims to counter top-down forest, conservation and development policies and make international finance institutions accountable to affected peoples and communities.

Forest Peoples Programme

1c Fosseway Business Centre
Stratford Road
Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9NQ
United Kingdom

Sunday, February 20, 2011

CORALINA takes legal action to block proposed oil exploration

The regional Colombian government agency, CORALINA, that established and manages the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve and Marine Protected Area (MPA), has submitted an “Accion Popular” against Colombia’s National Agency of Hydrocarbons (ANH) to halt leases to Reposol-YPF and Ecopetrol to begin oil exploration inside the borders of the Seaflower MPA.

An “Accion Popular” is a legal instrument granted to citizens by Colombia’s National Constitution (Art. 88) that allows them to seek protection of collective rights and interests related to their homelands, environment, public safety, health, etc. The legal action was presented to the High Tribunal by CORALINA’s general director, Elizabeth Taylor-Jay on Wednesday, February 16.

Seaflower -- located in the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence, and Santa Catalina in the Southwestern Caribbean -- has been a member of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2000 and is on the tentative list of proposed World Heritage Sites.

The largest MPA in the Caribbean and among the largest in the world, it spreads over 65,000 square kilometers (6.5 million hectares) and encompasses 76 percent of Colombia’s coral reefs and the most extensive open ocean reef systems in the Caribbean; more than 2,000 km2 of productive coral reef ecosystems with atolls, barrier reefs, fringing reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and lagoons. All the mangroves in the Seaflower are fully protected in "no-take" zones, with the two largest forests having additional protection as a national park and community-run regional park, respectively.

The MPA is known to be exceptionally rich in marine biodiversity for the region -- to date more than 407 species of fish, 48 hard corals, 54 soft corals, 130 sponges, 157 birds, and many other significant species have been identified, along with 192 IUCN red-listed species including sea turtles, marine mammals, hydrocorals, and others. The archipelago was declared a Significant Bird Area by BirdLife International in 2004 and is part of the western Caribbean biodiversity “hotspot.”

Besides its unique environment, San Andres also has a long social history distinct from that of Colombia. The descendants of the original inhabitants, now called raizales, are recognized as an indigenous people internationally and protected as an ethnic minority nationally. The Seaflower MPA was established in 2005, with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and resulted from a uniquely participatory process between CORALINA and the local community. This innovative MPA protects the livelihoods and tenure of the indigenous people, integrating conservation with sustainable fishing, harvesting, and locally run tourism.

CORALINA’s work in establishing Seaflower was recognized in 2008 by IUCN as one of the 60 most significant approaches to conservation that will influence the environment in the coming century. Last October the Seaflower MPA took top honors as the initiative that best realized the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan, beating out more than 1,100 other organizations around the world, both governmental and non-governmental, for its ground-breaking efforts in sustainability.

In addition to conserving marine biodiversity and ecosystems, "the intention is to open an umbrella of possibilities of livelihoods, including low-impact aquaculture, and some alternatives on land such as iguana farming which is done by the fishers in some places, and also creating interpretation trails [for tourism]," Taylor-Jay, told the BBC at COP 10 after the award was announced.

The Popular Action claims that the oil leases violate the Convention on Biological Diversity, which the Colombian Congress ratified in the National Law 165 of 1994, as well as the rights of the indigenous people of the archipelago, whose rights are protected by the National Constitution (Art. 310) and by international instruments including ILO Convention 169 that protects tribal and indigenous people, ratified by Colombia in National Law 21 of 1991, and the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved by Colombia in April 2009. The participatory process to establish the Seaflower MPA was presented by invitation last year at the UN Ninth Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City.

Most residents of the islands are strongly opposed to the oil exploration, along with local and national non-governmental organizations that have publicly rejected the leases, including the archipelago’s Old Providence Foundation and Colombia’s Fundacion ICRI (International Coral Reef Initiative).

To sign the Old Providence Foundation’s petition against the oil exploration, go to:

To contribute to strengthen management of the Seaflower MPA and its community-based livelihood projects, go to The Ocean Foundation, Friends of the Seaflower: