Thursday, July 23, 2015

Income for Coastal Communities for Mangrove Protection

MAP Asia Coordinator, Jim Enright, was invited to attend a regional inception workshop for the project entitled ‘Income for Coastal Communities for Mangrove Protection’ May 7-9 in Bangkok.   The objective of the project is to develop a low cost mechanism enabling investors to responsibly promote mangrove conservation, carbon emissions reduction and sustainable development through the provision of funding to local communities for livelihood diversification, resource enhancement and coastal protection.   The lack of sustainable funding to support mangrove restoration is the driver for this project which has taken several years of preparation and donor hunting. The workshop brought together 38 representatives from Government, UN agencies, NGOs, the private sector and academics.  Project activities will take place in Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam. 

The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is implemented by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Office (FAO-RAP), within the framework of the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) initiative, with assistance from the USAID Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) Program and the UN-REDD Programme.

The objectives of the inception workshop were:
1. To formally launch the project
2. To collect expert and stakeholder feedback on proposed project activities and outputs
3. To use the collected feedback to inform project methodology, including a revised work plan

This initiative seeks to develop a mechanism enabling investors to responsibly promote mangrove
conservation/restoration, carbon emissions reduction and sustainable development through the provision of funding to local communities.  A key purpose of the mechanism is to facilitate flows of funding to smaller mangrove areas in support of environmental externalities where entry into voluntary and compliance markets for carbon is not economically feasible.  The mechanism will also provide an alternative income for fisher folk enabling reduction of fishing effort and regeneration of fish stocks.

Conservation/restoration of mangroves will also support sustainable fisheries management and support rebuilding of fish stocks.  The work thus aims to facilitate mangrove conservation/restoration, replenishment of fish stocks and livelihood development while providing public and corporate entities with an opportunity to invest in climate change mitigation and socio-economic development.

Following the workshop a half-day field trip was held to visit a mangrove restoration site at the Bang Kaew, Samut Songkram, in the Upper Gulf of Thailand which is suffering from extreme coastal erosion.   The Bang Kaew site represents an organized community afforestation effort to plant mangrove seedlings, behind a bamboo wave barrier, hoping to establish a future mangrove wind and wave defense for the community.

Developing a simple low-cost mangrove carbon stock assessment is one of the project goals and MAP Intern, Robbie Carrasco, spent a week along with villager from Klang Island assisting Jacob Bukoski of Yale’s School of Forestry and the Environment collect field data in mangrove in the Krabi River Estuary Ramsar site.  Field data is being collected in Thailand and Vietnam to test a multiple linear regression model he has developed to predict levels of biomass and carbon in mangrove ecosystems.  

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