Monday, June 28, 2010

MAP established the Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) yahoo e-group to share information amongst mangrove restoration practitioners in the Bay of Bengal Region following an EMR workshop MAP held in AP India in 2005. EMR puts the focus on hydrology and correcting it if it's preventing natural regeneration from occurring. Using EMR often means that planting seedlings is not required and the result will be a more natural biodiverse mangrove forest. The e-group has proved to be an effective tool for information and experience sharing on mangrove restoration so the group has been opened to all others interested in EMR to join. Now the group has more than 75 members including students, NGOs, academics, and mangrove restoration practitioners from Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. The emphasis of the group is on sharing mangrove restoration information using the EMR methodology to improve the effectiveness of mangrove restoration projects but other information on mangrove conservation is also being exchanged.

To learn more about the EMR group and to request to join please go the EMR group's home page

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prehistory of mangroves and humans in Nigeria

Dear Mangrove Action Project
I am the Nigerian Palynologist who informed you about our work on the mangroves in Nigeria some time last year. I am so sorry it took this long for me to send this.


ORIJEMIE AKPO EMUOBOSA, Palynology Laboratory, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

In 2004, a palynological study of an 11m terrestrial core, obtained from Ahanve a village near Badagry in Lagos State, SW Nigeria was carried out by Professor M. A. Sowunmi. One of the aims of the study was to understand the palaeoenvironment of the lowland rain forest (LRF). It was found that the mangrove swamp forest (MSF) was abundant there from the Early Holocene to Mid Holocene (ca 9500-5500 yrs B.P.). However, the MSF declined gradually from the Mid Holocene, and completely disappeared ca 3100yrs B.P. Today, the MSF is not present in the area; the vegetation is a fresh water swamp, dominated by Typha australis. This drastic change in vegetation was unexpected, and thus prompted a further study of the vegetation history of the LRF and MSF in the west coast of Nigeria during the Late Holocene.

More palynological studies of the Lowland Rainforest (LRF) of Southwestern Nigeria during the Late Holocene have been undertaken. The aims of these studies are broadly to reconstruct the palaeoenvironment of the mangroves and ascertain the impact of human interactions with rainforest in this same period (the Late Holocene). Sediment cores with varying depths from three other sites (Ogudu [6m], Otolu [0.45m] and Ikorigho [2m]) along the coasts of SW Nigeria, and one from Ahanve [2m] were obtained. The palynological studies of these cores have been carried out. Furthermore, archaeological excavations were conducted in Ahanve, the same village where the MSF had disappeared some 3100 yrs ago. The aims of this archaeological angle are to ascertain the antiquity of humans there and whether humans actually contributed to the disappearance of the MSF.

The palynological studies have revealed that though environmental and vegetation changes were noted in all the sites, they were comparatively very serious at Ahanve, where a drastic reduction of the LRF and complete disappearance of the MSF occurred some 3100yrs B.P. This change in vegetation has been linked primarily with natural followed by anthropogenic influence. Changes in climate, hydrology, geomorphology and salinity of the mangrove swamp were the initial natural factors that led to the decline and disappearance of the MSF at Ahanve. The dry phase that occurred ca 4500-3000yrs across Africa led to the destruction of the MSF; the Atlantic Ocean was then cut off from Ahanve while fresh water inundated from neighboring rivers and the Badagry creek lowered the salinity of the swamp. All these contributed to the destruction of the MSF there.
These events occurred concomitantly with reductions in rainforest taxa, appearance and increase in secondary forest species, (Elaeis guineensis (oil palm), Alchornea sp), grasses (Poaceae) and weeds (Asteraceae) associated with human habitation. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in microscopic charcoal towards the beginning of the Ahanve core. This indicated the burning of fuel wood by humans. Thus, although the reduction of the MSF at Ahanve was initially caused by change in climate, human activities, presumably felling and burning of forest trees, consequently exacerbated the situation. This led to the total destruction of the MSF.

At the other sites where cores were obtained, the MSF is still present there today. However, the reconstructed palaeoenvironment show that the MSFs in these areas were more extensive in the past. There were also alternating periods of dry and wet. Though these fluctuations in climate affected the MSF especially at dry periods, the MSF recovered when conditions became favorable. However, since the recent past, there have been consistent reductions in the MSF noted both in fossil mangrove pollen and ethnographic records. In addition, there were unprecedented and consistent increases in microscopic charcoal towards the top of all the sediment cores. These charcoal specks are not considered to have resulted from natural fires. Their consistent occurrence and increase even during periods considered to be wet are indications that they were caused by humans. It is presumed that the charcoal specks were derived from the burning of forest trees as domestic fuel.
Therefore, the palynological studies reveal that humans, beginning from some time in the Late Holocene have been having serious impacts on the LRF and MSF in SW Nigeria. Today, the factors having serious effects on mangroves are: felling of the mangrove trees for fuel, conversion of mangrove swamp for other purposes such as building, and dredging of the mangrove swamp. All these human activities alter the ecology of the MSF and destroy mangroves.

Two test pits were excavated at Ahanve. The test pits, named TP1 and TP2, were 210 cm and 110cm deep respectively. The recovered materials includes: Pottery, charcoal, animal and fish bones, rusty nails (iron objects), iron slag, snail and bivalve shells, hearth, palm kernel shells, smoking pipes, snail and bivalve shells and glass beads .
From the archaeological finds, there are indications that the Ahanve people gathered food resources such as the African giant snails (Achatina achatina), fresh water bivalve/clam (Anodonta sp), and possibly engaged in fishing cat fish (Clarias cf. gariepinus). There are also indications that the people hunted. The occurrence of iron slag, hearth, charcoal and charred palm kernel nuts through out the two test pits is an indication of the prehistoric use of fire by humans in Ahanve. But, it is not yet certain, from the archaeological records, if humans contributed to the disappearance of the MSF there ca. 3100yrs B.P.

Unfortunately, dates for these events are not yet available. With the availability of C14 dates, it would be possible to know when these palaeoenvironmental events occurred. Furthermore, a correlation of, and situation of all these sites within a regional (and global) context will be made possible. This will contribute to our understanding of how well to relate with our environment by learning from the past

Best wishes,
Orijemie A Emuobosa

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Xcacel Action Letter UPDATE

Life is always changing as long as humans are in command of our world, and that is a fact. But to the lives of the aquatic animals, it appears that we humans are really testing their future existence, in particular, the majestic sea turtles. With the non stopping oil gushing from the deeps of the Gulf of México, it is time that we demand a future, and for more than just for us.

We need to demand the right of life, and this is something that has been pushed aside to much these days to make way for money making, which along the Yucatan's Riviera Maya is total wall to wall construction with no let up in sight as long and the government has a pen in their SEMARNAT signing hand.

We the public, must stand up and say we have had enough! ...and let’s start with a BIG NO!!!! to all hotel constructions on Xcacel turtle nesting beach. Please, WE NEED THE WORLD TO HELP US NOW. Send a letter to the authorities and demand that the building craze in the Mexican Caribbean take a moment to think, let’s keep one beach sacred, and natural, AT LEAST! and Xcacel is the most abundant with nests in all of the Atlantic ocean for turtle counts of both the logger head and green sea turtles.

Elvira Quesada, our ecology Secretary has stated that he will demand from BP any and all funds if and when there are problems with anything dealing with this oil disaster that is unfolding in the Gulf, i.e. the migrating animals to México , the turtles, etc.…..let’s see if he really means what he states…he can show us by protecting Xcacel.

Once again,

Xcacel-Xcacelito, the famous Turtle Sanctuary beach of Mexico, located 100 Km. south of Cancun in the tourist corridor of the Riviera Maya, is in peril again. Xcacel is known as one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches of the Mexican Caribbean coastline. But this is not all that it is known for, for also there are the 7000 turtle nests each year that dot this untouched-to-date beach bluff, along with plants, animals, cenotes, and underground river systems. For this, Xcacel is one of the world’s most important turtle nesting beaches and for the Atlantic Ocean, THE MOST IMPORTANT, nesting beach, representing 20% of all loggerheads and 22% of all green sea turtles, in the Atlantic Ocean born to this beach.

Xcacel beach status is in BIG trouble. In the last 3 weeks, the Mexican government, to be more specific SEMARNAT, under the directions of Juan Elvira Quesada with the help of his signing sidekick, Mauricio Limon, has signed away the lifeblood of this most important beach, yes, for more hotels. A new project Punta Carey (same project that was rejected in 2004 and again in 2006) has just been given permission to build, with their PHASE #1 project, which includes the constructions of 30 apartments, 104 hotel rooms, a club house, beach services, security control access office and roads on the 26 hectares (2 ½ acres = 1 hectare) of beachfront land that will be located on the northern boundary of the Marine Turtle Sanctuary.

Being such a fragile zone, any development, even a low impact project, is not worth jeopardizing such a successful reproduction area for this particular endangered species. It has been proven around the world that building hotels on a turtle nesting site will kill off all future turtle nestings. If the laying sea turtle cannot return to the beach that she was born at, then she will have no choice except to deposit her eggs into the ocean, where they will drown.

We ask for all citizens around the world to help us. The Mexican government will listen if the world speaks. Please copy and paste the following sample letter to the following Mexican politicians today…

Sample letter:

Dear Mexican Government officials,

Please exercise all of the power in your authority to stop the planned constructions on the Sea Turtle sanctuary known as Xcacel-Xcacelito, especially, now after the disaster from the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill on April 20th, 2010. Please decree federal protected status for the turtle sanctuary and bordering regions of Playa Xcacel and Playa Xcacelito in Quintana Roo. We know that the national Commission of natural Protected Areas (CONANP) has completed and published studies in 2005 assigning sanctuary status for these world important 360 hectares of Xcacel and Xcacelito. We are asking for further protection extending from the reef west through the wetland jungle to the paralleling Highway 307. In addition to the endangered marine turtles who return annually solely to this beach to nest, this zone contains endangered mangroves and other endangered plants. This is of critical ecological importance not only to this region but also to Mexico and the international community. It is a RAMSAR protected site # 1351. It is also one of the last public undeveloped beaches for locals and tourists to enjoy.


Your name_______________

Officials to write to in the Mexican Federal Government;;;;;;

Felipe Calderon
Presidente Constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Presidencial de los Pinos
Puerto Central, Primer Piso
Colonial San Miguel Chapultepec
Mexico, DF CP 11850
Tel: 555-522-4117

Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada
Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT)
Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources
Lateral de Anillo Periférico Sur 4209, 6 Piso
Fraccionamiento Jardines de la Montana, Delegación Tlalpan
México, DF CP 14210
Tel: 555-628-0602
Fax: 555-628-0643

Lic. Mauricio Limón Aguirre
Subsecretario de Gestión para la Protección Ambiental
Tel: 555-624-3544 o 5
Fax: 555-624-3680

Félix González Canto

Gobierno del Estado de Quintana Roo
Governor of the State of Quintana Roo
Submitted by SAVE A.C.