Saturday, March 7, 2015

Letter to SERNA & ICF


Dear Ing. José Antonio Galdames and Ing. Misael León,

I am very concerned at what we saw and experienced while conducting our CBEMR training workshop in your country last week. It makes no sense to us at Mangrove Action Project that your government agencies would seemingly attempt to thwart, disrupt and stop our sincere efforts to train others in the art of mangrove restoration. Initially, we thought that your government agencies were interested in working with MAP in ensuring our workshop proceeded with good progress, but in short time it became all too clear that this support was not there, and we cannot but wonder why?

Earlier, you had promised to not only send two of your staff members to participate, but also were eager to sign onto our class diplomas. This strangely was cancelled without clear reason. Also, we had openly asked your permission to restore an illicitly sited abandoned shrimp farm in the Gulf of Fonseca.  We provided you the exact location of the site, stating our strong interest in working with you to restore this abandoned site back to a healthy mangrove forest. We assumed you would see this as a good step forward; especially considering the specified site was a “protected” Ramsar site and part of an international port system. Nevertheless, when we arrived to visit the site in person, we were stunned to see a bulldozer actively clearing the site and preparing to reopen the ponds as active shrimp farms.

We filmed this bulldozer at work, including the clearing of re-established mangroves on the site.  We have photo documentation of this illicit work that clearly shows the cut and damaged mangroves, verifying that this site could have been more easily restored back to a productive and valuable coastal mangrove wetland. Your government’s hasty decision to clear these mangroves and prepare the site for some new shrimp farm venture was felt by us at MAP to be a severe slap in the face of our open intentions to collaborate with you in rehabilitating these vital intertidal forests that serve as important nurseries for fish and other marine life, as well as protect the coast again massive erosion and damage from hurricanes, such as Mitch.

Even after we realized our attempt to restore that site had been stopped, we had still hoped we would find support from SERNA and ICF, and hoped to discuss our objectives directly with you in person during the workshop. But even this opportunity to have an open, honest dialogue had been denied us, as your intended participants withdrew from the whole workshop event. 

I send this letter to you now to state my serious concerns that both the mangroves and coastal fisher communities are being excluded from your government plans for the area.  This very much seems a tragic loss, as mangroves are life and livelihoods for local communities dependent on their resilient natural resources.
I do hope via this letter we can still achieve a future open and transparent dialogue with your government so that we still may rekindle the opportunity to work together for the mangroves and mangrove communities for a more sustainable and equitable future!

Alfredo Quarto,
Executive Director
Mangrove Action Project

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