This presents a couple of important opportunities for MAP and our allies to consider in our common struggle to conserve and restore our planet’s beleaguered mangroves. For one thing, how can we ensure mangrove forests are duly considered as vitally important forests to highlight in this Year of Forests? Too often, mangroves are looked at as muddy swamps and their value as coastal forests is not emphasized enough. In consequence, upland tropical and sub-tropical forests, as well as temperate forests are the focus of most forest conservation proponents, and mangroves are barely mentioned or considered. How can we change this misconception?
Additionally, we at MAP agree that the real causes of deforestation are not being given concerted attention, and we are concerned this “Year of Forests” will just be another ineffective publicity campaign bringing little hope for effective solutions. And effective solutions that deal with root causes and find ways to halt deforestation are truly needed- in fact, urgently needed- to prevent further forest loss and consequent biodiversity decline. Most mangrove loss today still emanates from anthropogenic causes that we must address in order to halt further losses of our planet’s mangrove wetlands. Shrimp farming still ranks as one of the leading causes of mangrove loss, along with industrial tourism, urban and agriculture expansion, new dams on rivers, oil exploitation, mining and port and jetty construction. All of these human activities need to be modified in order to have less impact upon our mangrove forested coastlines. We as consumers can make a big difference in this Year of the Forests by reducing our consumption of imported shrimp, being more selective in choosing our vacation resorts to be sure no environmental harm resulted from their placement and demanding the products we buy come from greener sources, whereby forests are not lost to
our consumer demands.
In this year of 2011, we ask our readers to help MAP place mangrove forests clearly as a priority ecosystem needing conservation and restoration. We ask our readers, in fact, to step up to the plate and help support MAP’s efforts to implement Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) on a wider scale to ensure longer-term, more biodiverse mangrove ecosystems are restored, getting away from the too popular, but problematic mono-culture plantations whereby only one or two species are planted by hand in what we term the “gardening approach.” Gardens are good for growing vegetables for the table, but inadequate in addressing the needs for restoring real forest biodiversity, which is really the essence of life on this planet.
One other important way for our readers to participate in this Year of the Forests is to make a generous donation to MAP so we can continue to work for the mangroves in 2011 and beyond. Both MAP and the mangroves need your help right now, as this is the year to make things happen!
For the Mangroves in 2011
Mangrove Action Project