Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Please help us save the Uran

The last few weeks have seen a total devastation of one of the biggest extents of wetland tracts & mangroves in this part of India. The place ‘Uran’, about 60 km from Mumbai, was a vast stretch of beginning from the northern end of Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai, up to Funde village, past the JNPT police Station.

Under the project of Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust - Special Economic Zone (JNPT-SEZ) extensive reclamation of wetlands in Dronagiri and JNPT has taken place. Dumpers at the rate of 25 trucks per minute have been pumping sand & debris from nearby mountains. Many areas demarcated for development of SEZs also happen to be fragile ecosystems & fall under the Coastal Regualtory Zone I -i.e within 500 metres from the coast.

Uran was home to around 200 species, including migratory birds. Not less than an estimated 75 species would be breeding there. First breeding record of several bird species had been found there in the last 5 years eg the black breasted weaver birds, a species which was found breeding in the region after 52 yrs. Several of the IUCN Red Data status bird were regularly wintering there. Many of the species fall under schedule I & IV of the Wildlife protection act of India, 1972.

It was a wintering area for many bird species, including several Critically Endangered, Vulnerable and Near-threatened species. It was an important stopover for several passage migrant birds that came in from as far as Europe, Central Asia and the Arctic Tundra. Many bird ringing studies have been conducted by senior ornithologists which prove this fact. Uran was also home to other endangered species like the monitor lizard.

As a matter of fact, it is surprising that Uran is not yet classified as an Important Bird Area despite its richness and numbers of birds. In fact, it should be proposed for the same, more so since our govt has pledged to conserve wetlands in the country.

Other than birds, four species of mangrove associates were also found at Uran. Seven terrestrial plant species including the Gloriosa superba i.e. Glory lilly, which is an endangered plant species according to IUCN criteria were also observed.

Due to reclamation of wetlands, mangroves and mudflats the food supply of birds - the aquatic invertebrates - were being killed. One needs to realise that humans will also be affected by the reclamation, and the recent heavy floods in Mumbai due to the Mithi river is an example. Had Mumbai’s Mithi river and Mahim creek mangroves not been destroyed by builders, fewer people would have died and the property damage would have been dramatically less.

There have been geological studies indicating the fragility of Uran. Uran region is prone to large scale erosion due to its geological formations. Under these conditions the viability of the SEZ itself is highly questionable. If landfilling by various entities, which is going on for years, remains unchecked, not only will the ecology of the place be disturbed, but Uran, the largest breeding ground for several migratory and resident birds, will be destroyed forever, not to mention the danger of cyclones & other ecological disasters for Mumbai.

We need to stop extensive reclamation of wetlands in Uran & move the proposed SEZs to another site, which is not ecologically senstive. All is not lost yet. Mangroves are a resilient species & can be revived. If the dumping is stopped & trenches are dug with plantation of some mangrove plants & seeds, 1-2 monsoons will restore the place. PLEASE HELP US SAVE URAN!

We need your help to pressurise the Indian govt to roll back these SEZs. Enough has been written in the local media as well as representations made to the govt, but to no avail. We bank on your support. Please go to and sign our petition at

The forest department's ridiculous management is responsible for the Sundarbans blazing

The Sundarbans is burning for 9 times in last 5 years
To observe the World Forest Day 2010, humanitywatch organizes a Discussion Meeting on Conserving Forest: Conserving Civilization. The meeting chaired by humanitywatch chairperson Sazzadur Rahim Pantha and conducted by humanitywatch chief executive Hasan Mehedi. 32 participants including journalist, development worker, social and cultural activist, teacher, lawyer and physicians are present in the meeting.
The meeting participants urge the government to take necessary measures for conserving the Sundarbans from subversive activities of the plunders, traders, musclemen and dishonest forest officials. The Sundarbans is the largest single tract mangrove forest in the world. It is not only our but also the civilization's resource, they say. It is our ethical responsibility to save it.
The participants are informed that the sundarbans is now burning in the Chandpai range of the Sundarbans East Division which is situated in the Bagerhat district. It is ridiculous that the forest is burning every year due to lack of proper supervision of the Forest Department. This is ninth times in last five years, fire spread out in the Sundarbans.
The fire was spread out yesterday (20 March 2010) and local forest guards were trying to dismantled the flames. The participants are informed that more than a hundred forest department workers, fire fighters and local people battled through Sunday to douse a forest fire in the Sundarbans. Now the fire had spread across about five acres of forest.
The fire originated at Payshatti Chhila in Gulishakhali camp under Chandpai Range situated in the eastern part of the Sudarbans. There are a plenty of flora resources including Sundari, Possur, Bain, bushes and creepers are available in this forest-area. All of the species of at least five acres forest has already been burned because this area is drier than the other in February-April season.
The fire fighters managed to keep the fire contained by digging deep ditches around the fire-hit area but they could not stop fire till evening. The forest department decided to suspend the fire fighting for the night at around 8.30pm, for fear of wild animal attacks.
The forest officer could not say how long it might take to fully quench the fire. He also said the forest department could not yet discover the cause of the fire. "Fallen leaves were lying about six to nine inches thick on the forest floor at this time of year. Flammable methane gas is produced when those leaves decompose. This area (Payshatti Chhila) is very dry from February to April every year. Therefore, there is always a possibility of fire", the forest officials said to the press.
But the participants of the meeting conclude that three major causes may be responsible for this burning: (a) Illegal plunders extract timber trees from an area without consideration of sustainability. After collection, they make fire in the forest on the basis of negotiation with dishonest forest officers so that none can proof the actual amount of trees in the certain area; (b) Moual (honey collectors) community members left their traditional Garu (fired bunch of leaves for smoke) blazing after collecting honey. It sets fire to dry leaves; and (3) Petrol guards of forest department and the fishermen cook their rice in forest using dry branches and leaves and left if without extinguishing. It causes fire.
The participants express their concern as fires have broken out at least nine times at different places of the east division of the Sundarbans, consisting of Chandpai and Sharankhola ranges, since 2004. The speakers in the meeting urge to the government for taking several measures including:
a) Establishing Fire Stations in each Range of the Sundarbans with speedy vessel;
b) Enforcing laws strictly to protect the plunders from extracting valuable resources of the Sundarbans
c) Ensuring transparency towards responsibility and accountability of the Forest Department;
d) Providing modern tools to the Mouals for collecting honey from the Sundarbans; and
e) Enhancing capacity of forest department through vehicle, instrument, arms and cash incentive.
Among others, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA) divisional coordinator Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul, Alliance for Justice director Al Masum Khan, NEEDS Bangladesh executive director Habibur Rahman Kabir, Humanitywatch coordinator Shariful Islam Salim, Saroj Das Pintu, Palash Das, Nasim Rahman Kiron, Mamunur Rashid Tito is present in the meeting.
Most of the national print and electronic media of Bangladesh publish and telecast the news of fire. Some of them are as follows:
BdNews24.com (online daily) writes: Forest, fire officials battle Sundarban blaze
Daily NewAge (English) writes: Fire breaks out in Sundarban forest
Daily Bangladesh Today (English) writes: Fire breaks out in the Sundarbans
Daily Star (English) writes: Fire breaks out in Sundarbans

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ring the Alarm Bells at Taco Bell!

The news of a new Shrimp Taco appears to laud the new menu item at the huge chain store fast food restaurant, Taco Bell, which will soon be serving shrimp tacos to the masses at their typical low prices. But again, what is the true cost of that shrimp taco. Surely, the diner is not paying what the true cost should be. We at MAP view this as a disturbing development because when such fast food giants as Taco Bell ring in the shrimp on their menu it is the alarm bell that rings loudest- alarm warning of further, rapid expansion of the industry into more coastal wetland areas, more mangroves lost, more wild fisheries declines, more displaced coastal communities and more overall ecological destruction.
Please help by posting a comment on Taco Bell's corporate site expressing the danger of this offering.
Click Here To Tell Taco Bell What You Think

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brian Keller

Dr. Brian D. Keller

The Mangrove Action Project joins the world of marine conservation in mourning the loss of Dr. Brian D. Keller, who dedicated his life to conservation of ocean ecosystems, especially coral reefs and associated ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrasses. Brian was more than a colleague to MAP. Beloved husband of the treasurer of our board of directors, Fiona Wilmot, he was also a friend and staunch supporter. Brian Keller passed away on the morning of March 10.

Marine ecosystems have lost a tireless advocate who daily studied and worked on ways to better understand coral reef ecosystems to improve their management and conservation for the benefit of all people around the world. Brian used his experience and knowledge of marine research every day to apply to his role in science management and to share with others. There was no greater proponent of sound science-based management than Brian and no one more generous. His knowledge was unsurpassed and he knew how sound science could be applied to make the wisest and best-informed decisions to conserve marine resources. His wisdom informed and influenced management decisions locally, regionally, and worldwide every day, especially in the Caribbean.

At the time of his sudden death, Dr. Keller was serving as the Regional Science Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Region of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He was working on a range of significant marine conservation issues from water quality to ecosystem and species-based monitoring to climate change adaptation options for management of marine protected areas. Brian supported local managers throughout the Caribbean, being unimaginably generous with his time and support. He was always ready to share his vast knowledge, available to review and comment on a colleague’s work, and eager to discuss the latest science, research, and findings and how best to apply these to conservation and improvement of coastal communities’ livelihoods and quality of life.

@ Florida's Wildlife: On the Frontline of Climate Change, Oct. 08

Brian will be greatly missed as scientist, mentor, adviser, and friend. MAP’s staff, board, and many members and supporters join in sending our sincere condolences to Fiona and their families.

Food sovereignty in the hands of mangrove ecosystem women

This story has been cultivated with the thoughts, the experience, the dreams, the words and the hands of women shell-gatherers from the Province of Esmeraldas, in northern Ecuador.

Living conditions there are hard. Access to the communities is usually difficult, there are schools in some locations, but very often the teachers lose heart and leave. The parents must make great efforts and send away their children to enable them to study. The water is no good for consumption and food is getting increasingly scarce.

With the arrival of the shrimp ponds, the mangroves disappeared and the farmhouses disappeared too. Nor were the dead respected either, as they even invaded the cemeteries. People leave, seeking to improve their lives, but they always come back because what they learnt is to gather, to fish and to sow food.

We start this reflection with much joy. For a long time now we have been struggling for the defence of the mangrove ecosystem, we have been talking about how we have been losing food, work and land. They even want to take our dignity away from us. We are trapped between the destruction of primary forests and the shrimp ponds and now, between the eucalyptus plantations and the oil palm plantations that are advancing and threatening to make us disappear.

Approximately ninety of us women sit and talk, sharing every day the gathering of shells from between the mangrove roots. Together we open another door to advance along this path. Rosa, Jacinta, Delfida, Uberlisa, Fátima, Gladys, Digna, Reverside, Anita, Nelly, Albita, Lucety, Ismelda, Nancy, Danny, Daila, Mercedes, María, Andrea, Estefanía, Santa, Lourdes, Marianeli, Flora, Herlinda, Tasiana, Rita, Ramona, Marieta, Carmen, Pastora, Ninfa, are the women with whom we have been struggling for nearly twenty years now in defence of the mangrove ecosystem, since the eighties, when the shrimp ponds and nurseries started invading the mangroves. We have been fighting for years, “but we are not tired.”

Sharing the warmth of a plate of traditional food, sheltered by the intelligence and picaresque joy of Esmeralda’s shell-gathering women, we crafted this story to share with other women, with other struggles, with other expectations ... and in this fiesta we were joined by Don Garci, Goyo, Cocoa, Edgar, Pirre, La Mona, Fifo, Maximo and Alfredo.

“Like a nightmare that we have to wake up from”

“One day we woke up and it was like a bad dream, like a nightmare. Some with machines, others with machetes, all destroying the mangrove forest; then the fire finished everything off. Large notices were put up ‘Private property – no trespassing’ and some skulls and crossbones appeared on the notices. Then armed guards and dogs prevented the women shell-gatherers from entering the few places left where the mangroves had survived. The guards insulted them, chased them with the dogs and threatened to kill them.

Thus, the story of destruction in the Muisne Canton, in the south of the Province of Esmeraldas began. This happened towards the end of the eighties. It was then that industrial shrimp farming started to destroy the mangrove ecosystem and peasant farms starting from the Province of El Oro.

At the beginning, the population believed in the companies’ offers: “They came like they do during political campaigns, promising us the earth. During the first years it looked as if a bonanza was coming. We all went out to gather shrimp larvae and to fish for egg-producing shrimps to deliver them to the industry. But soon it was all over and here we are, with our arms crossed, with nothing.” The community people never thought that in a few years their lives would be so affected.

“With shell gathering, my mother gave birth and brought up ten daughters. We all studied up to college and we never wanted for anything at home. Not luxuries, but we had everything at mealtimes: different types of crabs, such as the guariche, the tasquero, and the mapara; also forest animals, free-range hens and shellfish, clams, mussels, fish. Bananas were more abundant then. At that time, there was food because everyone had their own small farm. People grew food in their front gardens; there were all sorts of herbs, chillangua, large oregano, small oregano, cilantro, spring onions, mint and palo. We eat pepa e pan, peach palm ... everything was abundant. Now a shell-gatherers’ family lives very poorly, shrimp farms occupy the mangroves and the lands that belonged to our grandparents. Many farms have been lost.”

The women shell-gatherers from the Muisne Canton remember how the parish of Bolivar in the south of the Canton was larger, it had mango trees, avocados, orange trees, guavas, lemon and mandarin trees, coconut palms. All the houses had vegetable gardens, with corn, broad-beans, beans, cassava, sweet potato, zagú, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillies, sweet potatoes of all kinds. The women told how they used to go down to the vegetable patch and have everything for the dressing at hand: white onions, shallots. There were aromatic plants too, verbena, mint, thyme, citronella. The women of Bunche and Daule described the same landscape.

We know how the lives of our fellow fishermen, crab gatherers, coalmen have deteriorated because we are all one and the same: women, men, mangroves. The stories, the legends, the dances, the songs...now there is hardly anything left.

In the old days there were great dances in big halls. The people celebrated their feasts to the sound of the guitar. In these parts the guitar was much played. The Black people arrived at the Canton of Muisne in the forties with their drums, their lullabies and praises and they merged with the customs and the culture of the inhabitants of Manabi. All of them went to the mangroves and all of them have made their lives there.

“But what I always say is that what is most important is our political struggle. It must never falter but rather grow. What is most important is to recover our natural enterprise, our mangrove ecosystem. There no one asks us for documents, no one places an age limit, we are humbly received. All the rest is complementary. We will not allow shrimp farming to be legalized, because if the government hands over the lands then they will become more arrogant and will want to humiliate us.” These are the words of 24-year old Andrea, mother of three boys and with all the strength of the women shell-gatherers from the Province of Esmeraldas.

The women shell-gatherers from the Canton of Muisne tell how, in spite of their deep grief over seeing the destruction of the mangrove ecosystem and their impotence over the speed with which the ecosystem was destroyed, their thoughts challenged them to find some way out. Fortunately they were together, there were community organizations as by then the Canton of Muisne was learning the story of the Muisne Esmeraldas Peasant Organization (Organización Campesina de Muisne Esmeraldas - OCAME), a strong organization inspired by the Church of the poor.

Today the proposal is to rehabilitate the mangrove ecosystem and with it, recover all that has been lost, because they are even taking away our culture. When the mangrove is reforested, the shells, the small tasquero crabs, larger crabs and other shell-fish will all come back. And community work will come back too because you can do nothing on your own and our communities have always been noted for their support, for reciprocity. Families survive because between us all we support each other, grandfathers and grandmothers, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, uncles and aunts, mother and father and “whoever is stopping by.” Everybody contributes, not only with money but with work, with company, with good advice and this must not be lost.

What is still a bit “low” is work on the farms and the plots, although it has started. But it needs strength because it is like an incomplete body, as if the hands were missing or perhaps the heart. Markets are being organized to sell products from the mangroves and the farms; we call them Food Sovereignty Markets. What we are trying to do is to sell what we produce, what comes from our own land, with no chemicals. We are also taking products out of the mangrove, but with the message that the shell has to be big, 4.5 cm as it is good to sell, the small one must be put back so it can finish growing. We want to do the same with the crabs, sell large crabs, mind the egg producing crabs and mind the mothers who reproduce.

“The fact is that we consider the mangrove ecosystem to be our mother and this is what we have all learnt. Life is there, the mangrove ecosystem is a maternity and it is a natural industry that God has left us as heritage, so we won’t be poor.”

Long days of reflection, joyful meetings among communities, reforestation of mangrove forests, a political process of resistance is being built, of territorial dispute which, finally is a dispute for power.

For the group of women from the Cayapas Mataje Ecological Reserve, in the north of the Province of Esmeraldas and the Wildlife Refuge of the Muisne Cojimies Mangrove Estuary, in the south of the Province of Esmeraldas. Sent by Marianeli Torres, CCONDEM, Ecuador, e-mail: marianeli@ccondem.org.ec

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This is a speech I have waited 13 years to give, since I first visited the Bugtongbato mangroves. Make that 14 years, if we go back to 1996 when my then SEAFDEC assistant Junemie, now Dr. Lebata-Ramos, excitedly reported a beautiful mangrove patch she had seen in Ibajay. I thought she was exaggerating until another colleague confirmed her story. When I came with a SEAFDEC group in 1997, it was love at first sight! Never mind the mangroves I have visited all over the Philippines and SE Asia, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Africa and even Florida in the USA – the captivating BugtongBato-Naisud mangroves will always be my favorite.

So I was shocked to find during that visit that many trees were girdled – that is, the bark was scraped, and I asked the Barangay (Village) Head Why? He replied – to kill them by setting on fire (dag-oban kag patyon), following the advice of a government environment official that in order to make a livelihood from the mangroves, he should plant bakhaw. As the forest is dominated by Avicennia, locally knows as apiapi or bungalon, he concluded that he would need to kill these first. So I pleaded – please save the trees because I will need them for my research – which was not really true at the time. But return to Iloilo I did, to obtain research funds for Mangrove-Friendly Aquaculture.

In the course of my field work until early 2000, I invited Filipino scientists, among them Dr. Rex Sadaba of the UP Visayas and Dr. Josette Biyo of the Philippine Science High School, who in turn brought their own students, and also foreign scientists from Japan, Sweden, UK, etc. One particular day I remember walking in the Ibajay market with an Australian mangrove expert in tow, when a vendor asked me pointblank: Is he your husband? She thought I was a native Akeanon who had brought my Caucasian spouse to the famous beaches of Boracay. She could not appreciate that there was/is something in Ibajay far more beautiful and precious than Boracay.

Since then, my experiences suggest that these mangroves are not only enchanting but also enchanted, protected. Please do not laugh if I tell this story of the first time Junemie and I visited the centuries-old trees some 800 meters and 10 minutes by footwalk from here. At the time, it took more than an hour through the slippery jungle to finally locate the Avicennia rumphiana stand. When we had our fill of admiring the magnificent trees, we started the return trip as the sun was going down. To our dismay, our local guide confessed that he had never seen that part of the forest so we kept going around in circles. After what seemed an eternity, we finally found the road. My own interpretation is that the spirits of the forest were testing us, and finally saw our good intentions. Earlier in the 1980s, People Power of a handful of local folks and officials prevented chainsaws from turning the forest into fishponds.

So I say to those who visit these mangroves – be pure in heart, respect the plants, do not cut their branches nor throw garbage. Unfortunately, this was not the case during my past visits, for each time I would notice a cuttabigi here or a burned piag-ao there. These are just 2 of the 27 species of true mangroves in this EcoPark, as documented in the Handbook of Philippine Mangroves (co-authored with Rex, Junemie and Jon Altamirano). You will see their scientific and local names on the nameplates hanging from the trees and also in the poster inside the Information Center. By the way, there are other posters that describe the importance of mangroves, their uses, and so on, so I will not go into that.

More recently, we simplified the 106-page book to a shorter, laminated Mangrove Field Guide which is cheaper and easier to carry. My fondest hope is to see Filipinos, both adults and children (including my 2 apos surnamed Tirol who happen to be Akeanons) going to the forest and appreciating it. Toward this end, my Pew grant has funded the writing and publication of Mangrove Modules for elementary schools. Last November, we distributed some 2,000 copies of these Modules with the accompanying Teacher`s Manual to 80 schools throughout Panay.

May I end by saying that this Park is only one livelihood option for our partner POs – the Bugtongbato Fishers Association and the Naisud Marine and Aquatic Organization. There is also food processing in collaboration with the Aklan State University, and hopefully more research studies from UPV and even foreign universities. In the early 2000s, SEAFDEC made it possible for me to do research in these mangroves. In 2005, the Pew grant provided PhP100,000 for the first part of the footwalk, but it was a solo flight project for me. In 2008 came the ZSL grant which not only provides funds from London, but also the best human resources available -- my staff of 9 from ZSL and Pew. Without all of them, we will not be here today.

Finally, on behalf of ZSL and also SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (where I am Scientist Emerita), our deepest thanks go to our PO partners and LGU officials – Mayor Lulu (Ma. Lourdes Miraflores), Vice Mayor Sta. Maria, SB Solidum, Cap. Inguillo and Cap. Gregorio, and their support staff.

Good day and enjoy the mangroves!

J.H. Primavera

Pew Fellow

Scientist Emerita

SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kenya’s Second Port Spells Double Devastation

It has been said that the greatest threat in the race to avert the global climate crisis is business as usual. At the highest level, business as usual is at the roots of current threats to one of the most internationally important ecosystems in Kenya: the Lamu Archipelago via the proposal to build a second national port for the country and situate it in the very heart of the archipelago.

The Kenyan government seems intent on developing a second national port and has gone to great lengths and distances to secure interest and capital for the project – as far as Qatar and China, which, until recently, had seemed to be the prominent cash cows for the existing proposal. Financial injection for the port hinged for a time on the leasing of 40,000 ha of land to Qatar in return for financing a proportion of the port. The land proposed to be leased lay within the Tana River Delta, an area of international conservation importance, itself, which is already facing a myriad of threats. However, as recently as a month ago, Qatar shelved the lease which might have made the port unviable. China, however, has stepped up its involvement further and agreed to fund the project. The project is by no means a small one - rather a 1.23 trillion shilling or, roughly, 17 billion dollar, venture. Cited estimates for the construction cover 1,000 acres in Lamu District, including plans for an oil refinery and terminal, international airport and railway track to Juba in Southern Sudan. In Lamu alone, 6,000 families are likely to be displaced by the project but this figure barely scratches the surface of the much larger impact the port is likely to have.

Download the full document

Please take action to save the Lamu Archipelago. Send the action letter below or your own to the Prime Minister of Kenya by copying it into your email. Please cc. it to the following leaders:

Prime Minister Raila Odinga: ps@primeminister.go.ke
cc. Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director James Mulewa: kpamd@kpa.co.ke
Minister of Transport, Hon. Chirau Ali Mwakwere:

---- Take Action ------

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to speak out against the reckless plans to build a second national port in Lamu. As you know, mangrove forests are the first line of defense against sea level rise associated with global warming. Their value in carbon storage alone is very significant and mangroves are threatened along the entire East African coastline. To build this port, the mangrove forests in the Manda Bay area from Mkanda Channel to Dodori Creek would require extensive felling. East Africa has consistently lost mangrove cover over the past quarter century and increased rates of degradation would seriously imperil this fragile ecosystem and reduce its capacity to mitigate climate change effects.

Cited estimates for the construction of the second port cover 1,000 acres in the region of Manda Bay in Lamu District, including plans for an oil refinery and terminal, international airport and railway track to Southern Sudan. The tremendous destruction to the natural environment from such developments can only be guessed at without public record of Environmental Impact Assessment. In 1980, 60,000 hectares off the coast north of Lamu was designated a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Project in recognition of the international conservation importance of the north-eastern coastal region. The Dodori Creek mouth, proposed to be developed, sits at the edge of this biosphere reserve at coordinates 2°03’ S and 41°00’ E. The environmental impact alone, not to mention the effects on local fishermen and farmers, would negate the intention of designation of this site to preserve the biodiversity, natural resources and ecology of the area through management that incorporates local people. Construction would also impact two national reserves to the north of the proposed port site: Kiunga Marine and Dodori National Reserve.

Local people have never been consulted yet local farmers in the proposed location for this port were visited in January of 2009 by an official delegation and told that some of the 6,000 families likely to be displaced by the project will be compensated for land if the Port Authority decides to proceed with its plans. In 1997, under public pressure, the World Bank halted a plan to relocate 600 families in the center of a critical habitat for a threatened primate species in the Tana Delta because moving people for plants and animals was wrong, but the government can evict 6000 families in Lamu and others in the Tana River for economic reasons?

At a pivotal moment in history when the world faces the threat of climate change, degradation of such an important marine environment in Lamu for purposes associated with extracting, processing, and transporting more fossil fuels and other goods seems to fly in the face of international protocols aimed at reducing carbon emissions. It also suggests that Kenya has no compunction in violating international designations such as the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve boundary established in 1980 which would be negated by such large scale industrial activities along its edge. Please reconsider both the site for the 2nd port and, potentially, the necessity of building a 2nd port at all pending environmental impact assessment.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Response to Mangrove eradication in New Zealand

This is Prof Gordon Maxwell, now back in NZ again for a spell and I will outline the main aspects of the new anti-mangrove paradigm that is rapidly gaining favour as a fashionable way of approaching our sole species/subspecies of mangrove in New Zealand, Avicennia marina sub sp resinifera. I made a BIG mention of this disturbing paradigm at the Pacific Science/ ISME Conference in Okinawa in June ,2006. Please ask ISME ( isme@mangrove.or.jp) for more.
1. Excess available sediment arriving in many estuaries is the fundamental 'cause' of the mangrove expansion over the past 40 years.This sediment is in land based runoff associated with inadequate catchment management e.g. due to excavations,soil disturbance,forestry operations.The NZ mangroves are opportunistically colinizing the expanding 'mud-flats' that develop.The process is,of course not at all new, but has accelerated over the past 4-5 decades.
2.Marinas are popular with many ( by no means all ) people who reside or have holiday homes in coastal zones, especially in the populated areas of the North Island of NZ and north of the biogeographiclly important "mangrove line" which lies ~ 38 Deg.South in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, N.Is., NZ. The marinas want open access to coastal areas and mangrove vegetation can be seen as an obstacle to such access.Hence the efforts to destroy mangroves.
3. There has been a move by some to have NZ mangroves defined as a " weed " species and this way neutralise the Resource Mangagement Act ( RMA) which seeks to protect native plants, animals....ecological resources.Some UNiversity people have joined this trend and use incomplete geological data ( pollen in sediments ) to hint that the NZ mangrove is not a 'real' native species ( and can, therefore be killed...this is the implication! ).The same people quietly accept the notion of 'self-introduced' bird species arriving in the past 5-10 decades from overseas.Yes, we have hints of science being contaminated by fashion and social pressure.The fact that we have a Maori name for our species of mangrove,"MANAWA" seems to matter very little.The historical linguistic aspects of this do not attract attention...at the moment !
4. To please the pro-marina lobby, many " Environmental management agencies" especially Regional Councils like Environment Bay of Plenty based at Tauranga, are falling in with the anti-mangrove voices.Some have enticed local iwi ( Maori tribal organisations ) to accept their anti-mangrove viwepoints,by suggesting that mangroves destroy their shell and fin fish resources !
5.This paradigm, stands in stark contrast to the pro-mangrove viewpoint,once common in NZ ,that looked upon these ecosystems as nursaries for fin fish and protectors of sheltered coastal habitats.I was a key scientist working within this model back in the 1970's when the Hauraki Catchment Board ( now part of Environment Waikato ) wanted to save mangrove stands: they were economically important protectors of stopbanks along side the twin Rivers of the Hauraki Plains ( Piako and Waihou Rivers).As such, the mangrove belts protected valuable dairying farmland from estuarine tidal invasion.This viewpoint is being lost these days as the fashion to which I made reference above gains momentum.Sad but true.
I will cc this outline to ISME and may be they can source some other papers ( including mine ) which may help further. I am still re-organising my library after my latest stint os a Prof in Hong Kong. Thanks in anticipation to Prof Baba and his staff at ISME Head Office, Okinawa, Japan.
Best wishes, GMax ( Prof Gordon S.Maxwell, FLS ).

Calendar Information 2011

A fun and exciting Art Contest for children 6 to 14 years old

 We invite all primary school children from tropical and sub-tropical nations, and whose   schools are located near mangroves, to create art telling us "why mangroves are important to me and my community".

 Selected winners will be published in a 2011 calendar to be distributed internationally to raise awareness of mangrove forest ecology. This creative contest aims to promote appreciation and awareness of mangrove forests, and to encourage and listen to creative voices of children living in mangrove areas.

 Help us launch this program in your school by contacting science and art teachers in your area and encourage them to work together on this fun and innovative project.


 What kind of art can be submitted?

 Technique: Paint, color pencil, ink, collage, pastel, crayons, etc

 Dimensions: Canvas, or paper, 45 cms x 30 cms. (18 in. x 12 in)
The Art Work should be in a format horizontal (long length across, the shorter length vertical), in order to fit on the calendar page. (We had received wonderful art work  in a vertical format, but sadly were unable to use it. )

 Artist Identification: On the back of each art work please write in English: the full name and age of the artist, the school name, address, city or town, country, and title of art work.
 Age Limit: from 6-13 years old
Mailing instructions: The artwork has to be mailed in a small tube, such as the ones for mailing posters. Make sure the art is sent in certified or registered mail to MAP, PO Box 1854, Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA.

How will entries be judged? 

 Each school will hold its own exhibition and select 3 or more winners in art. Winning entries will be collected in each country by a participating NGO and then mailed to MAP's office to be judged by a team of artists.

What are the prizes?
-1st Prize will receive a certificate + calendar and the recognition of being published in an International calendar with global distribution.
 -2 nd Prize                                          ''            ''
 -3 rd Prize                                       ''             ''

 School will receive 2 Calendars
 NGOs will receive10  Calendars.

 When is the deadline?

Please, we must receive the artwork in MAP's office by the end of July, 2009.

 Mailed to: PO Box 1854,.Port Angeles, WA  98362-0279, USA
 Please mail in a tube or flat in a box, but not folded!

Who do I contact?.

 Please let us know if your school plans to participate by contacting:
 Monica  Gutierrez-Quarto,
 Calendar Project Coordinator
 c/o Mangrove Action Project
 PO Box 1854
 Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA
 tel./ fax  (360) 452-5866 
 e-mail: monicagquarto@olympus.net  and
 : mangroveap@olympus.net

 All entries selected at the national level should be submitted to the same address.

 Your local NGO contact is: (Please fill this in.)



 Some suggested Field Trip and Classroom Lessons

 It is suggested that this contest could coincide with an Associated Mangrove Ecology Educational Project with the children. This lesson will highlight the importance of mangrove forests for the environment, for their community, for fishermen and/or for the associated mangrove forest fauna. The intent of this educational project is to help the participating children better comprehend the important role mangroves play in their lives and for their communities.

 1- Information and guidance in the classroom, aided by text books, mangrove  curriculum, slides and videos.

 2.- Eco-Study Field trips for firsthand observation with  the teacher and/ or a local resource person, where they can observe the myriad forms of life that inhabit the mangroves, such as the many colored  birds, fish, crabs, mollusks, reptiles, mammals, and insects, while also learning about the unique characteristics of the associated mangrove plants and trees.

 3.- During, or after, the field trips, the children can  hold interviews with their parents or local fishermen about the mangroves in their region, learning more about the history of the area's mangrove forest, as well as why they are important and what the problems are when the mangroves are lost.

 4 - As a result of this research, the children may wish to create artwork for the 2011 calendar art competition.

Yours sincerely,

 Monica Alicia Paz Gutierrez-Quarto,
 Calendar Project Coordinator
 Mangrove Action Project



Alfredo Quarto, Executive Director
Mangrove Action Project
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279
phone/ fax  (360) 452-5866 
web site: http://www.mangroveactionproject.org