The MAP News
498th Edition July 4, 2020
Mangrove Conservation Can Help Countries Meet Emissions Reduction Goals
MEXICO - Protecting mangrove forests—one of the planet’s most effective habitats for capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide—could help countries meet their goals for reducing carbon emissions while providing other ecosystem benefits, according to new research. A team of researchers, including 2018 Pew marine fellow Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, used Mexico as a case study to demonstrate how countries can use the carbon storage potential of their mangrove forests to estimate the climate-related costs of deforestation. This type of accounting, the team says in its article published in the peer-reviewed journal Ambio, can enable countries to make progress toward emissions reduction targets by conserving their coastal habitats. The research was led by Joy Kumagai at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, where Aburto-Oropeza is an associate professor of marine biology. Aburto-Oropeza hopes that the research will inform future decision-making about how and where conservation resources are applied to maximize environmental and societal benefits, which extend well beyond carbon sequestration. As the authors wrote in their article, “If the costs of these programs are less than the projected damages, the benefits far outweigh the investment, as mangroves provide numerous other valuable ecosystem services.” READ MORE
Thresholds of mangrove survival under rapid sea level rise
GLOBAL - The rate of sea level rise has doubled from 1.8 millimeters per year over the 20th century to ∼3.4 millimeters per year in recent years. Saintilan et al. investigated the likely effects of this increasing rate of rise on coastal mangrove forest, a tropical ecosystem of key importance for coastal protection (see the Perspective by Lovelock). They reviewed data on mangrove accretion 10,000 to 7000 years before present, when the rate of sea level rise was even higher than today as a result of glacial ice melt. Their analysis suggests an upper threshold of 7 millimeters per year as the maximum rate of sea level rise associated with mangrove vertical development, beyond which the ecosystem fails to keep up with the change. Under projected rates of sea level rise, they predict that a deficit between accretion and sea level rise is likely to commence in the next 30 years. READ MORE
Threatened mangrove forests won’t protect coasts
GLOBAL - If sea levels go on rising at ever higher rates, then by 2 Researchers from Australia, China, Singapore and the US report in the journal Science that they looked at the evidence locked in the sediments in 78 locations from the last 10,000 years, to work out how mangrove forests have – through the millennia – responded to changes in sea level. At the close of the last ice age, sea levels rose at 10mm a year and slowed to nearly stable conditions 4000 years ago. In a high emissions scenario, by 2050 sea level rise would exceed 6mm: the scientists found a 90 per cent probability that mangroves would not be able to grow fast enough to keep up. Nor – because of the development of coastal settlements worldwide – would the forests be able to shift inland. “This research therefore highlights yet another compelling reason why countries must take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions,” said Benjamin Horton of Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, one of the researchers. READ MORE
Forests in a time of crises
GLOBAL - People everywhere recognize that forests and trees help combat climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation. Many also understand their importance to rural livelihoods. Getting trees in the ground, keeping them there, and ensuring that the potential benefits materialize are not easy. In 2019, two of the world’s leading organizations focused on forestry and agroforestry, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) embarked on a bold merger venture in order to provide the evidence and innovative solutions needed to scale up investment in sustainable development and address the global challenges of our time. Uniquely equipped to deliver transformative science thanks to the diverse skills of our more than 700 staff and long-established partnerships, CIFOR-ICRAF is better placed than ever before to address local challenges and opportunities while solving global problems. READ MORE
Fish prices spike as Cameroon’s mangroves face total depletion
CAMEROON - In Cameroon, extensive mangrove systems provide an abundance to the communities that surround them. From firewood to fish, communities have depended on mangroves, locally known as matanda, for years. These low-lying, tide-resistant shrubs grow in salty water and cover nearly 60 percent of the southwest region alone, but also spread across three regions: Rio de Ray, Wouri Estuary Douala and Ntem South, according to Ekwadi Songe, southwest regional delegate of environment, nature protection and sustainable development. Due to overfishing and overharvesting its wood, mangroves have seriously depleted in recent years. Sea level rise due to climate change also threatens the mangrove ecosystem. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a spike in the price of fish is largely blamed on mangrove depletion. As of 2010, Cameroon’s mangroves were nearly 75 percent depleted, but today’s figures are likely much higher, according to the Andalou Agency. “If mangroves go extinct, fish will finish in Cameroon,” said Songe, the southwest regional delegate. READ MORE
The Toxic Legacy of 60 Years of Abundant Oil
NIGERIA - It’s one of the most polluted spots on Earth, and prospects of a turnaround only get worse as Covid-19 guts a global industry. In the past decade, crude has gone from providing about 80% of all Nigerian state revenue to about 50% last year. This year, with the global economy hit by the coronavirus adding to existing trends as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, the government projects an 80% decline in oil income. That creates a bitter reality for residents at the center of Africa’s biggest petroleum industry: they’ll have little help cleaning up pollution that’s deprived entire communities in the Niger River delta of their fishing and farming livelihoods. “Over so many years both the government and the oil companies have made promises to clean up without doing so,” said Pius Waritimi, an art teacher and environmental activist based in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt. “If oil loses its importance as a source of revenue, it’s likely the Niger delta will be abandoned to its fate.” READ MORE
New Aquatic Preserve Off Florida Is Big Win for Wildlife, Habitat, and Long-Term Economy
USA - Off Florida’s west coast, seagrass beds stretch for miles and for decades have supported a significant part of the regional economy. That’s why the Florida House and Senate passed legislation to protect about 400,000 acres of seagrass—a measure that Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law today. The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve off Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties is the first new preserve to be designated in more than 30 years and the 42nd in a state system designed to maintain water quality and biological value to ensure healthy ecosystems. The preserve, which covers part of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass bed, still allows traditional activities such as boating, fishing, and scalloping. “The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve is an essential tool in keeping our marine environment healthy,” said Mike Desabrais, vice president of Port Hudson Fishing Club in Pasco County. “Lawmakers and the governor have significantly helped that environment, and future generations will see great value in their efforts.” READ MORE
Unknown phenomenon destroying northern wetlands
MALDIVES - “People used to say back then that even a bullet could not pass through the mangroves. That the mangroves were so thick, that even a bullet could not pass through. As long as I can remember, there were a lot of small-leafed orange mangroves.” Ali Adam, ,H.Dh. Neykurendhoo Council president reminisced his childhood. The wetland of Neykurendhoo, is some of the biggest in the country. The most prominent mangrove in the area is the small-leafed orange mangrove, locally called kan'doo. Residents of Neykurendhoo grew up by sourcing food from these trees. The strong wood from the small-leafed orange mangroves was used to build boats. The area is nature’s gift for the island and remains as its pride. However, this is slowly becoming the past. Ali Adam said that the mangroves were not as thick and strong as they used to be. Dangers faced by the mangroves have led to questions surrounding its future. Tree leaves in a large portion of the area have turned yellow. The trees on the other hand are withering and dying. Neykurendhoo is not the only location to be hit by this phenomenon. The wetlands of H.A. Kelaa and N. Kendhihulhudhoo are also experiencing similar issues. READ MORE
Bangladesh coal plants threaten world’s largest mangrove forest
BANGLADESH - Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful to strike in the Bay of Bengal in 20 years, made landfall on the India-Bangladesh coast last month. Amphan ripped off roofs, washed away homes, and flooded farms. Crucially, Bangladesh was able to mitigate impact and save lives because of its robust emergency response system with early warnings and mass-evacuations. But coastal communities were also protected by Bangladesh’s natural storm shield: the Sundarbans. A protected World Heritage site, this mangrove forest holds land together with its roots as the tides rise. As climate change increases the intensity of extreme weather events like Amphan, the Sundarbans are at risk when they’re needed most. But the Bangladesh government threatens to destroy these life-saving forests by building coal-fired power plants that could subject them, and the nearly 2.5 million people who depend on them for their livelihoods, to harmful pollution. And while the mangroves slow climate change by soaking up carbon, coal-fired plants contribute greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming. READ MORE
Plant 50 million mangroves in the Sundarbans? Improbable, say experts
BANGLADESH - The Sundarbans would need an area nearly half the size of Kolkata to plant 50 million mangrove trees as decided by the West Bengal government recently, which is improbable, experts have said. They cited a lack of space as the primary reason along with a number of other factors. On World Environment Day (June 5, 2020) this year, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that 50 million mangroves would be planted in the Sundarbans in the near future. The reason was to compensate for the plants’ loss during the recent Cyclone Amphan, that made landfall near Sagar island in the Sundarbans. A healthy mangrove population in the Sundarbans is considered critically important as it works as a barrier to high-intensity cyclones that impact the islands of the delta as well as its hinterland including Kolkata. Banerjee said about 28 per cent of the Sundarbans had been damaged by the cyclone and pointed out 1,200 square kilometres of the 4,260 sq km forest had been ‘destroyed’ severely, affecting its mangrove population. The Indian Sundarbans are spread over 9,630 sq km, of which, nearly 5,400 sq km is inhabited by humans while the rest is forest area. “The figures are not matching up. It is a fact that about 4,260 sq km in the Sundarbans is forest area. But close to 50 per cent of that is water,” an expert on the Sundarbans, said on the condition of anonymity. READ MORE
The Malay Peninsula is a dispersal barrier to certain mangrove species
MALAYSIA - US ecologists showed that mangrove tree species with seeds/seedlings that float and survive shorter periods at sea have limited ability to disperse across the Malay Peninsula.Southeast Asia, with its thousands of islands and complex geological history, is one of the most interesting regions in the world to test ideas about dispersal by sea. The distribution and genetic patterns of coastal organisms that we see today contain signatures of their past dispersal activities and allow us to examine how genes moved across this complex landscape impact dispersal activities at present. A research team led by Prof Edward WEBB and comprising his then Ph.D. student, Dr Alison WEE from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS used molecular tools to examine the genetic relationship among populations of four commonly occurring mangrove species in Southeast Asia. They showed that the Malay Peninsula functions as a filter to genetic exchanges between the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait. READ MORE
Mangrove collapse ‘inevitable’ unless emissions curbed
AUSTRALIA - The threshold beyond which the world’s mangrove forests can survive could be reached within the next 30 years if sea levels continue to rise at their current pace and greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, according to new research. Mangroves have two particularly important roles: they buffer vulnerable coastlines from severe weather systems such as cyclones and storm surges, and are considered to be some of the most valuable carbon sinks of any terrestrial forests. Researchers studied samples of sediment from 78 tropical or subtropical mangroves that built up between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, part of what are known as the final stages of the Holocene period, when glaciers were melting and sea levels rose as a result. They determined that mangroves can only withstand a maximum relative rise in sea levels of 7 millimeters, about a quarter of an inch, per year: “a limit beyond which mangrove systems cease to function,” according to a statement that accompanied the report. Mangroves are able to adapt to fluctuations in sea level, but they have their limits, said one of the report’s co-authors, Neil Saintilan, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. READ MORE
Please help spread the word on this year's children's mangrove art calendar competition! The contest is now open to anyone from any country between the ages of 6-15. Keep in mind, the deadline is Aug. 30th, so lets get those entries in ASAP!
Do you know a budding artist or a gifted child? We would love to feature their vision of what the mangroves mean to them, our planet and their future.
For more information, please visit Mangrove Action Project Calendar Project or download the PDF here
INTERVIEW – Yale Climate Connection interview with MAP's Alfredo Quarto LISTEN
Mangrove Action Project
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
The MAP News
497th Edition June 20, 2020
Marvellous Mangroves for French Guyana - The Mangrove Alliance
French Guyana - Merveilleuses Mangroves de Guyane, the French version of Marvellous Mangroves, adapted and translated for use in French Guyana, has just been published. The joint project between the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), Cayman Islands-based Mangrove Education Project (MEP) and Kote Foret was started in early 2018 when MAP education director and MEP executive director Martin Keeley and Kote Foret’s director Lucille Dudoignon began the process by reviewing the Dutch version from the country’s Suriname neighbour. Mr. Keeley travelled to French Guyana in 2018 as well as the following year, and in the fall of 2019 ran a three day pilot workshop with Ms. Dudoignon at the College Schoelchner school in Kourou on the coast. The workshop was supported by teachers Audrey Gardan and Remy Catel and combined their classes for several of the activities as well as the field trip held on the third day to the mangroves at Pointe de Roches in Kourou. “The pilot went extremely well,” says Mr. Keeley. “My French is a bit rough, but Lucille took over and with her teaching skills the kids participated enthusiastically in both the activities and the field trip. We had spent several days prior to the pilot reviewing the materials and their application. It takes a long while to put together a Marvellous Mangroves program in a new country, and while the ecosystem in French Guyana is essentially the same as that of Surinameen there are some differences in the flora and fauna, the translation needs to be accurate. Social styles can also be different and this can affect classroom implementation.” READ MORE
Love mangroves? Share your pictures with the world
GLOBAL - Once again, as a celebration of International Mangrove Day on July 26, they are raising awareness of the importance of mangrove forests with a global photography contest. Following on from World Environment Day on June 5, and to celebrate the bold commitments being made across the world for a sustainable future, the theme for this year’s contest is #ForNature. We invite you to send us your best photos for a chance to be part of a special exhibition that will help highlight the beauty and importance of these undervalued coastal ecosystems. Photos will be viewed and judged by an expert panel, including photographer Cristina Mittermeier, and there will be special prizes this year for our three chosen winners. Wherever you live in the world and whether you are an amateur or professional, beginner or expert, young or old, this contest is for you. Your images have the power to inspire people and to help raise the profile of mangroves. Deadline for entries is Friday, July 24, 2020. READ MORE
Addressing Climate Change Vulnerability of Coastal Cities Through Mangrove Forests
GLOBAL - Around the world, coastal cities are threatened by storms, rising sea levels, and other climate change related hazards. With conventional approaches often both costly and ineffective, nature-based solutions are offering valuable alternatives. One example are the community-based methods developed by the NGO Mangrove Action Project. The climate crisis is real and measurable. Sea levels are rising, storms and droughts are intensifying at an alarming rate. A recent study warns that major coastal cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Jakarta, and Bangkok could be lost to rising sea levels over the next 30 years, affecting an estimated 300 million people living along the world’s coasts. This is about three times the number of people affected than previously estimated. “The figure could double to 630 million people affected by 2100 if little is done to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines and entire global regions within our lifetimes,” says Scott Kulp, lead author of the study. READ MORE
Mangrove Trees - Nature's Hurricane Barriers - Could Be Gone By 2050 Due To Sea Level Rise
GLOBAL - Mangrove trees serve as nature's hurricane barriers for places such as Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Virgin Islands National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Plus, they provide valuable habitat for fish and other marine life, and are pretty cool for humans who are fortunate enough to paddle through them. But they could be gone by 2050, victims of sea level rise driven by climate change. Scientists studying sediment data from the last 10,000 years are estimating that current projections for sea level rise will doom mangroves if they come true. When sea level rise rates exceeded 6 millimeters per year, similar to estimates under high-emissions scenarios for 2050, the scientists found that mangroves were very likely to stop keeping pace with the rising water levels. Mangroves are more likely to survive when sea-level rise is less than 5 millimeters (about 0.2 inches) per year, which is projected for low-emissions scenarios this century, the study published in the journal Science said. READ MORE
A Photo Essay Celebrating Africa’s Precious Biodiversity
CONGO - The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. During these exceptional times, nature is sending us a message: to care for ourselves, we must care for nature. It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices. It’s time to build back better for people and the planet. Africa is immensely rich in biodiversity. Its living organisms comprise around a quarter of global biodiversity and it supports the Earth’s largest intact assemblages of large mammals, which roam freely in many countries. Africa’s biomes extend from mangroves to deserts, from Mediterranean to tropical forests, from temperate to sub-tropical and montane grasslands and savannas, and even to ice-capped mountains. In celebration of World Environment Day, we are pleased to share with you some of Africa’s unique Biodiversity. READ MORE
Madagascar’s communities, an engine for change
MADAGASCAR - Local entrepreneurship drives wildlife conservation and food security. “My daughters and I, we don’t always get to eat enough,” says Nirina, a resident of the Malagasy village of Marovovonana. “There’s no supermarket here, so we mostly eat what we grow ourselves or find in the forest.” She is hopeful that the training she has been receiving in poultry rearing will improve her family’s diet and reduce the pressure on her to go hunting. Nestled in sumptuous vegetation, Marovovonana is among Madagascar’s remotest settlements. On the edge of Makira Nature Park, it sits next to one of the country’s largest tracts of virgin forest. The spot is exceptionally rich in biodiversity and a habitat for lemurs, an animal found nowhere else in the world. Conserving this unique fauna matters crucially in a community heavily dependent on fishing and hunting for its food and income. But poverty, isolation and a shortage of domestic meat have forced the inhabitants of Marovovonana and neighbouring villages to hunt down species that are endemic, endangered or at risk of extinction. In a rapidly changing world, Nirina – much like the other 90 000 people living on the edge of the nature park – struggles to make ends meet. The wildlife around her is thinning out and flooding is increasingly frequent. READ MORE
In Guatemala, Communities Take Best Care of the Forest
GUATEMALA - When the government of Guatemala created the Maya Biosphere Reserve in 1990 to protect Central America’s largest rainforest, conservationists felt betrayed that a big chunk was given to local communities for sustainable logging. They saw it as a lost chance to save the heart of the third most important biodiversity hotspot on the planet, home to more than 1,400 plant and 450 animal species, including jaguars, pumas, tapirs, spider monkeys, alligators, harpy eagles, and macaws. Today many think differently. Illegal cattle ranches — most of them linked to major drug cartels — have been wrecking the national parks containing the protected forests in the west of the reserve, causing some of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world. Almost a third of the forests in the largest park in the reserve, the 835,000-acre Laguna del Tigre National Park, has been lost since 2000. But the once-maligned community forests are still intact, a shining beacon of conservation covering nearly 900,000 acres of the eastern half of the reserve. Deforestation rates there are a fraction of 1 percent. Together, they comprise one of the world’s largest and most successful community forest experiments. READ MORE
Japanese coal developers to push three new coal power stations in Bangladesh
BANGLADESH - Japanese companies are planning to build at least three new coal power plants on the small coastal island of Matarbari in Bangladesh, one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. If built, these three climate-wrecking coal-power stations alone would produce an estimated 506 million tonnes of carbon dioxide throughout the plants’ operational lifetimes. If global temperatures continue to rise, the impacts of climate change would be felt more strongly by Bangladesh than most other countries. We can’t let Japanese financial institutions and coal power developers: JICA, Sumitomo, NEXI and SMBC threaten our future and the future of communities in Bangladesh. We need your support. Please re-tweet and share the posts on Twitter and Facebook. Take action now and stop the build-out of coal plants in Bangladesh.
Rest in peace, Rainforest Rescue founder Reinhard Behrend
Dear friends of the rainforests,
We have sad news to share with you today: Reinhard Behrend, the founder of Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald e.V.), passed away on June 5, 2020, after a long battle with cancer.
Fascinated by the beauty and diversity of the natural world, Reinhard built a worldwide network to defend it. With Rainforest Rescue's campaigns, he helped sensitize the public to the issues of environmental crime and social injustice. While he knew that rainforest destruction is a juggernaut that cannot be halted easily, he never let up in his determination to stand up for the rights of rainforest dwellers and protect biodiversity.
His life's work: saving the rainforest
Reinhard's desire for us to reconnect to nature was at the heart of his struggle. As a child in postwar Hamburg, he was fascinated by the teeming life in the allotment gardens on the outskirts of the city. As a young man, his curiosity and drive to explore drew him to the rainforests of Southeast Asia and Central America. These unique ecosystems and the threats they face left such a deep impression on him that he made saving the world's rainforests his life's work.
Influenced by the anti-nuclear and peace movements, he began working in the mid-1980s to raise German mainstream society's awareness of its responsibility for the destruction of the rainforest. Never one to think small, he and his comrades-in-arms took on none other than the Coca-Cola Company in their very first protest against citrus plantations. And with success – the activists attracted considerable media attention by occupying Coca-Cola's Hamburg bottling plant, prompting the global corporation to announce that it was canceling its plantation plans.
With his information campaigns, Reinhard reached more and more people, keeping up the pressure on policymakers and bureaucrats. At the same time, he supported grassroots groups in the global South in their fight against rainforest destruction, knowing that putting donations to work strengthening local activists on the ground would have the greatest impact.
As much as he savored Rainforest Rescue's successes, he knew that the power of corporations and ever-increasing consumerism would further quicken the pace of destruction. Encouraging us to fundamentally rethink our behavior was therefore always at the core of his message, making him a role model for many of his fellow activists.
As his health declined, he stepped down as chairman and passed the torch to the current Rainforest Rescue co-chairs, fellow founder Dr. Bettina Behrend and the Indonesia expert Marianne Klute, in May 2020.
In an interview marking the 25th anniversary of the organization, Reinhard described how he always hoped for an outcry in our midst. For him, protest could never be loud enough. As friends of the rainforest, to whom he has given a platform with Rainforest Rescue, we will continue to raise our voices loud and clear, even if we are silent today.
Dr. Bettina Behrend
Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald e.V.)
INTERVIEW – Yale Climate Connection interview with MAP's Alfredo Quarto LISTEN
Mangrove Action Project