The MAP News
Bay of Bengal: depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone signal tipping point
BANGLADESH - The Bay of Bengal’s basin contains some of the most populous regions of the earth. No less than a quarter of the world’s population is concentrated in the eight countries that border the bay. Approximately 200 million people live along the Bay of Bengal’s coasts and of these a major proportion are partially or wholly dependent on its fisheries. For the majority of those who depend on it, the Bay of Bengal can provide no more than a meagre living: 61% of India’s fisherfolk already live below the poverty line. Yet the numbers dependent on fisheries are only likely to grow in years to come, partly because of climate change. In southern India drought and water scarcity have already induced tens of thousands of farmers to join the fishing fleet. Rising sea levels are also likely to drive many displaced people into the fishing industry. But the fisheries of the Bay of Bengal have been under pressure for decades and are now severely depleted READ MORE
Farmers encouraged to practice climate-smart agriculture
KENYA - As effects of climate change continue to bite, farmers have been urged to embrace climate smart agriculture like planting trees alongside their crops. Towards this end, a charity organization Hindu Religious and Service Centre (HRSC) affiliated to the Hindu Council of Kenya is championing tree planting in various parts of the country. So far, the organization has undertaken the tree project in Kitui, Machakos, Narok and Naivasha. “The program started in 2005 and we have been planting nearly 8,000 tree seedlings in different regions twice a year during rainy seasons,” says Shantibhai Shah, HRSC co-ordinator. By the end of last year, they had planted 95,495 trees in 20 regions, says Shah. To enhance forest cover in Kenya by consistent and sustainable tree planting, the group plans to plant 150,000 trees by the end of this year. The organization works with local authorities, county governments, communities, and schools to make for a successful and sustainable tree-planting program. To achieve their goal, the organization partners with local communities, environmental groups, community forest associations. READ MORE
Police in Bangladesh clash with protesters over power plant
BANGLADESH - Police in Bangladesh’s capital fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Thursday to disperse protesters demanding cancellation of plans for a massive coal-fired power plant near ecologically sensitive mangrove forests on the coast. Five people were injured. The protesters, consisting mostly of leftist political groups and citizens, had called for an eight-hour general strike in Dhaka on Thursday. The violence took place at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka, but most of the city was unaffected. The government insists that the planned 1.3-gigawatt Rampal power station near the Sundarbans, a world heritage site, is key to reaching its target of 24 gigawatts of electrical capacity by 2021. UNESCO says the plant poses a serious threat to the Sundarbans, a low-lying delta region comprising about 200 islands at the northern fringe of the Bay of Bengal. The $1.8 billion project, approved in 2012, is a joint venture between Indian and Bangladeshi state power companies. It calls for building what would be Bangladesh’s largest coal-fired power plant just 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the Sundarbans. READ MORE
Shrimp farm threatens indigenous community's forest and rights
MALAYSIA - The mangrove forests in Pitas, Malaysia are under threat. In less than two years, more than 2,000 acres of mangrove forests have been destroyed to create shrimp ponds, violating the local communities’ rights and environmental regulations. The last 1,000 acres of community mangrove forests are now also targeted for expansion. Please help the indigenous communities in Pitas to protect and conserve their remaining forests. In 2010, the Malaysian government launched a new economic initiative aimed at turning Malaysia into a high-income economy by 2020. One of the projects under this plan sought to tackle extreme poverty in the district of Pitas, one of the poorest in Sabah, by establishing the country’s largest shrimp farm and promising job opportunities for local communities. Instead, the project has led to the destruction of the mangrove forests which are their main source of food and income. So far, all of the communities’ complaints and calls for action have been unanswered. The communities’ hope is that strong international support will lend increased weight to the letter, which they will resubmit to the Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman, along with the list of all endorsements. Please consider giving them your support by signing the letter before 15th February 2017. SIGN PETITION
Poverty alleviation' shrimp farms destroy mangrove forest, grab indigenous land
MALAYSIA - A government-led shrimp farming project meant to tackle extreme poverty in northern Sabah, Malaysian, won local support in 2010 by promising job opportunities for impoverished indigenous communities. Six years on, mangrove forests local people depend on for food, materials and income are closed off and being cleared - but the jobs have yet to materialize. "Since the project started, more than 2,000 acres of mangrove forest have been destroyed to make space for shrimp ponds. Our land has been cleared out and we are not allowed near the ponds. The land clearing has also affected the local fauna and endangered a highly delicate environment, home to more than 300 proboscis monkeys and numerous kinds of birds, including rare birds such as hornbills and kingfishers." READ MORE
Socio-Ecological assessment investigates trends and drivers of change affecting mangroves
MYANMAR - Myanmar’s coastal state of Rakhine is prone to multiple natural hazards and people’s vulnerability to these hazards is further exacerbated by weak infrastructure and chronic underdevelopment. Against this background, the Program for Increased Disaster Management and Resilience Against Natural Disaster (IDM-RAND) was launched in 2014 as a consortium of organisations led by International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and comprising ACTED, Swanyee Development Foundation and Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre. In a secondary review conducted at project inception, IDM-RAND found that despite evidence of widespread and accelerating encroachment of Rakhine’s mangrove forests, management of this critical resource is only weakly integrated into Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programming in the state. Moreover, weaknesses and contradictions persist in the existing evidence base regarding drivers of mangrove degradation, existing levels of mangrove coverage in the state and rates of change over time. READ MORE
How ‘jobless men managing the sea’ restored a mangrove forest in Java
INDONESIA - For the last decade Mashadi has been the major local force behind environmental efforts, particularly mangrove restoration. Unwilling to quietly settle for a situation with no solutions, Mashadi approached village elders and an ex-village headman, Rusjan. In 2005, he and Rusjan formed a local group, Mangari, with an initial membership of 25 people. The group focused on replanting areas of the coastline that had been damaged and degraded. Initially local villagers thought Mangari’s activities odd, crazy even. Members were locally referred to as “jobless men managing the sea.They didn’t see the economic value of mangroves to aquaculture ponds,” Mashadi related. “It’s true that there was no immediate value. You couldn’t eat mangroves, for example.” Societal scorn and a dearth of seedlings discouraged members of the small outfit. The initial group of 25 people dwindled to 11, which made it difficult for the team to check the success of their saplings. Mashadi admitted that his initial lack of knowledge on mangrove cultivation also stymied his efforts. At first, he paid scant attention to timing or weather when planting. He did not regard location much either. “We planted right at the brine water line.” Waves wiped out all their seedlings. Then Mashadi searched for references. He learned that October to December was the best period to plant mangrove. He reduced planting parties to once a year and set an annual goal to plant a hectare’s worth of 1,000 seedlings. Today, the Mangari team concentrates on planting riverbanks and abandoned aquaculture ponds. READ MORE
Editor's Note: In 2011 MAP joined Eco Viva and Asociacion Mangle in El Salvador to initiate a mangrove restoration training workshop. After the workshop, participants commenced a very ambitious and successful restoration effort that has helped restore a large swathe of mangroves in the Jiquilisco area. From the news report below, it appears that good work is still in progress with renewed support and efforts by the local communities, NGOs and government.
40 Islands in Bay of Jiquilisco Added to National Protected Areas
EL SALVADOR - In another win for locally-led conservation efforts, Ministry of Environment announces funding to protect wetlands and communities. The Ministry of Environment announced yesterday that it would be incorporating 42 islands into El Salvador’s System of Natural Protected Areas. Forty of these islands are located in the Bay of Jiquilisco complex, and two are in the Laguna de Olomega. The Ministry also signed an agreement with the UNDP launching an effort to protect five wetlands of international importance in El Salvador, including the Bay of Jiquilisco. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has contributed $2.2 million over the next four years to fund the initiative, called “Conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, and maintenance of ecosystem services in protected wetlands of international importance.” The Bay of Jiquilisco was declared a Ramsar Site and wetland of international importance in 2005. READ MORE
The Human Element of Mangrove Management
USA - As global climate change continues to threaten coastal communities in the tropics, governments have increasingly focused on the promotion and conservation of mangrove forests for their protective qualities. Mangroves — trees and shrubs that grow in tropical estuaries — are among the world’s most productive ecosystems and, compared to other forest systems, have an impressive capacity to sequester and store carbon at high rates. They also serve as an important physical buffer, protecting coastal areas from storm surges and acting as “bioshields.” Despite these clear benefits, since 1980 the world has lost approximately 20 percent of its mangrove forests. With this in mind, there is a growing need to understand the factors, both biophysical and societal, that contribute to sustainable mangrove management. Countries are recognizing the importance of identifying mangrove management approaches that deliver results on the ground. In Tanzania, there is a growing recognition of the weakness of top-down mangrove protection approaches. Joint forest management and group rehabilitation schemes with local communities are increasingly being proposed in an effort to foster more community-led management processes. READ MORE
NASA releases images of dramatic deforestation in Cambodia
Cambodia has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation, losing a Connecticut-size area of tree cover in just 14 years. This week, NASA released before-and-after satellite images of plantation expansion in central Cambodia that provide a dramatic example of the Southeast Asian country’s fast-paced land cover changes. Ringed by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Cambodia was once covered in lush rainforests. In them lived now-Endangered animals like Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti), wild cattle called banteng (Bos javanicus), and two species of colorful monkeys called doucs, as well as many other kinds of plants and animals. However, forest conversion for agriculture and other purposes has reduced wildlife habitat significantly, and tigers are now regarded as functionally extinct in Cambodia. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), just 3 percent of Cambodia’s forests were primary as of 2015. And data from the University of Maryland (UMD) visualized on the forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch shows tree cover loss skyrocketed over the past decade, from around 28,500 hectares lost in 2001 to nearly 238,000 hectares lost in 2010. READ MORE
Forests 'held their breath' during global warming hiatus, research shows
UK - Global forest ecosystems, widely considered to act as the lungs of the planet, 'held their breath' during the most recent occurrence of a warming hiatus, new research has shown. The international study examined the full extent to which these vital ecosystems performed as a carbon sink from 1998-2012 - the most recent recorded period of global warming slowdown. The researchers, including Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, demonstrated that the global carbon sink—where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the natural environment - was particularly robust during this 14 year period. The study shows that, during extended period of slower warming, worldwide forests 'breathe in' carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they 'breathe out'—or release the gas back to the atmosphere. The team believes the crucial study offers a significant breakthrough for future climate modelling, which is used to predict just how different ecosystems will respond to rising global temperatures. READ MORE
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Save the mangrove forest in Pitas (Sabah), Eastern Malaysia
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Friday, February 3, 2017
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