Friday, May 29, 2015

MAP NEWS ISSUE 365, May 30, 2015

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The MAP News
365th Edition                                May 30, 2015


FEATURE STORY

Why Sri Lanka’s Historic Mangroves Move Matters
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SRI LANKA - Huge news for the environment: Sri Lanka’s new government just took the unprecedented, historic step to protect all of its mangroves. The move, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will provide long-term environmental, social and, last but not least, economic benefits to the Indian Ocean island nation, and provide a model for other vulnerable tropical nations to follow. Mangroves, which thrive in the mixture of sea and freshwater along coastlines, help maintain sea levels and hold back storm surges, forming a wall against flooding.  The hearty, shore-hugging plants encompass some of the world’s most spectacular biodiversity and form a powerful natural barrier, keeping our water clean, our beaches strong and tempering the power of tropical cyclones. The past decades have seen a massive reductions in global mangrove forests, mostly due to the expansion of shrimp farming, coastal shipping and erosion caused by development. The problem is that we need mangroves now, more than ever. READ MORE
 
ASIA
 
Environmentalist turns garbage into Tourist Attraction
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THAILAND – For more than 30 years, John Gray has been working to educate tourists about the fragile nature of mangrove forests. Over the years, Gray has promoted Thailand tourism by inviting the world to kayak and canoe through the pristine waters of Thailand’s mangrove forests. But recently, as more plastic and garbage has collected in the tidal forests, Gray’s tour has taken a new twist. Cleanup tourism has become a welcome benefit as more and more people want to do more than just reduce their carbon footpront. Groups now come not only come to learn the environmental value of mangrove forests, but to counter the impact of the modern world. Grays “clean up kayaking” is making a difference. READ MORE
 
A man with a mangrove in hand
INDIA - More than 40 years ago when ‘environment protection’ was not a catchy slogan, a man living on the Saint Sebastian estuarine island of Ashtamudi Lake here recognised the role of mangroves in marine and brackish water ecology.  Even now, at the age of 87, former fisherman Francis Xavier is still engaged in planting mangrove saplings and tending to them, not as a mere pastime but making a significant contribution to environment protection. Forty years ago, he had brought a cluster of the Rhizophora mucronata species of mangrove saplings from Mulavukad island in Ernakulam and planted them on the Saint Sebasitan island. His idea was three-pronged — they provide a safe environment for fish conservation; they protect the island from strong winds; and their wood has many applications, especially for making oars. Years later, after the tsunami devastation of Alappad in December 2004 when the importance of the plant in coastal protection began to be highlighted, it was the saplings from those planted by Mr. Xavier that were mostly used for the mangrove afforestation programmes. READ MORE
 
Whose mangroves are they anyway?
INDIA - It is a scene of absolute destruction. Acres and acres of tree stumps that look as if ravaged by a massive fire. Just across the road, there is a similar scene with dead, black trees with patches of an unhealthy green at the centre. Migratory birds sit atop the stumps, looking perplexed at what was once home to their parents and grandparents. Migrant workers fish amidst the dead roots. That such an appalling thing happening in Kerala, in the SEZ area of Puthuvypeen in the Vembanad wetland, should be a shame not only to the Forest or Finance Minister but also to the whole Left Government. What is even more disgusting is the mode of destruction. Residents of the area allege that the mangroves were poisoned with high concentrations of a herbicide to effect a slow death. It was done in such a way that the mangroves right in the core area were first poisoned, and then in concentric circles and finally in the periphery. READ MORE
 
Beach Erosion in Vizag Due to Lack of Mangroves
INDIA - Degradation and destruction of mangrove forests in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts, have been a cause of concern for environmentalists and environment lovers. Though negligible when compared to other coastal districts, both these districts having the mangrove forests in small patches spread over the coastline, are witnessing a decrease in the area over the last few years. Mangroves are found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas and play a crucial role in supporting the ecological balance. They play an important role in arresting tidal waves and tsunamis. They also support shrimp seed production and crocodile breeding. Andhra Pradesh has the second largest mangrove forests in the country, after West Bengal. Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam have mangrove forests spread over in an area of less than 60 hectares. In Visakhapatnam, mangroves plantation was once found in abundance near the Naval Dockyard extending up to Meghadrigedda reservoir on the rear-side of the airport. Two more mangrove plantation patches are found at Pudimadaka and Rambilli in the district. But, about 90 per cent of the mangroves and casuarinas in Vizag are lost due to human interference and indiscriminate deforestation of the mangroves cover for industrial development and urbanisation over the last few years. READ MORE
 
After Oil Spill, Unique Mangrove Forest Faces More Threats
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BANGLADESH - On December 9, 2014, a wrecked tanker released approximately 94,000 gallons (78,271 Imperial gallons) of heavy fuel oil into the Shela River, which runs through the Sundarbans, the sprawling and remote mangrove forest shared between India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. Now another shipping disaster is unfolding, as a capsized cargo vessel, Jabalenoor, leaks 200 tonnes of potash fertilizer into the Sundarbans’ Bhola River, southeast of the earlier oil spill.   A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sundarbans is home to a variety of wildlife, including an important population of the critically threatened Royal Bengal Tiger and rare Irrawaddy and Gangetic dolphins. In the wake of the oil spill a joint United Nations and Government of Bangladesh Mission published a long-awaited report on the accident. Referring to the incident as a “serious wake up call,” the report urges a number of protective strategies. In particular, the report calls for more stringent management of water routes, noting “an immediate need” to stagger the heavy traffic of commercial vessels, to ban all passage during unsafe conditions, such as at night or fog, and to “prohibit all anchoring in the channel except in an emergency.” READ MORE
 
AMERICAS
 
Development threatens Antigua’s protected Guiana Island
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ANTIGUA - In June 2014, Gaston Browne led his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party to a resounding victory at the polls with a pledge to transform the country into an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean. In their first 100 days in office, Prime Minister Browne’s Cabinet approved a number of private investment projects valued in excess of $3 billion. The largest is the Yida Investment Group, Guiana Island Project which will see the development of the largest free trade zone in the country, an off-shore financial centre, a five-star luxury resort, internationally branded villa communities, a casino and gaming complex, a multi-purpose conference centre, a 27-hole golf course, a marina and landing facilities, commercial, retail, sports and other auxillary facilities. Headquartered in western Beijing, Yida International Investment Group was founded in 2011. READ MORE
 
Thirteen corporations control up to 40 per cent of world's most valuable fisheries
USA -  Just thirteen corporations control 19-40% of the largest and most valuable stocks and 11-16 % of the global marine catch, according to new research. These "keystone" corporations of the global seafood industry critically shape the future of marine ecosystems, but have yet to assume this responsibility at the global scale.  The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, makes an analogy between the largest companies in seafood industry and keystone species in ecological communities. Keystone species in nature have a profound effect on the structure and function of the ecosystem and disproportionately determine the prevalence and activities of other species. For example just a small number of sea otters can determine urchin numbers, or a few grey wolves determine the size of bison, deer or elk populations. Likewise, the study found that the average annual revenues of the 160 largest companies in 2012 exhibit a distinct keystone pattern, where the top 10% account for 38 % of total revenues. The identified thirteen companies shape very large marine ecosystems around the world and are involved in both wild capture fisheries and aquaculture, including whitefish, tuna, salmon, shellfish, fishmeal, fish oil, and aqua feeds. Their combined annual revenues correspond to 18% of the global value of seafood production in 2012 (US$ 252 billion). READ MORE
 
OCEANA
 
'Citizen scientists' helping save Coast mangroves
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AUSTRALIA – "CITIZEN scientists" are leading a grassroots campaign to protect Sunshine Coast mangroves. Armed with video cameras and GPS, volunteers are patrolling mangroves along the Pumicestone Passage to collect data that is vital to experts getting a better picture of the mangrove's health. The volunteers have been trained by leading mangrove experts Prof Norm Duke and Jock Mackenzie, of MangroveWatch, who have developed a simple but scientifically rigorous assessment tool using video recording. That ensures all data is collected in a consistent way. It's already paying dividends, with that baseline data at Bell's Creek showing about 25% of the mangroves in poor condition. Key issues identified by the monitoring include bank erosion, water quality and altered hydrology from urban drainage. READ MORE
 
Photogenic lone mangrove tree 'vandalised', photographer collecting pictures for tribute gallery
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AUSTRALIA - The well-known mangrove at Waterloo Bay was recently cut down leaving residents dismayed at the change in the outlook. The area was frequently visited by amateur and professional photographers trying to capture a striking image of the lone mangrove. Landscape photographer Kane Gledhill has created an online gallery to pay tribute to and document the history of the well-known tree. The area was often used as a photography training ground and Gledhill is asking photographers and the public to contribute their favourite images of the tree to be included in the gallery. "It has become a tribute page to keep the images alive and the memories alive ... it is part of history really," he said. READ MORE


LAST WORD(S)

Hi Alfredo
 
I have been busy recently with setting up our Australian mangrove-saltmarsh network – at least to formalise it with a new website. Please pass this message around to ask if anyone would like to check it out, and maybe also to register if they want to stay in touch with things going on in Australia. Or they could just revisit the site whenever.
 
http://www.amsn.net.auwww.amsn.net.au
 
all the best: Norm Duke
AMSN Facilittator
E: aus.msnet@gmail.com

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