Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Former MAP-Asia Intern Joins 1st Mangrove Training Course for the Western Indian Ocean Region

From the 2nd to the 10th of December the First International Mangrove Training on Biodiversity and Ecosystem in the Western Indian Ocean Region took place at the University of Nairobi’s Moana Research Station for Marine Studies, in Diani, Mombassa, Kenya.  The training was attended by more than 20 participants from 10 different countries. The team of trainers were also international, including Professor Kathiresan, Director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology, Faculty of Marine Sciences, at Annamalai University, India; Hanneke Van Lavieren from the UNU-INWEH; and Dr Cairo from the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

First day introductions given by Dr. Cairo, the KMFRI Director

I am currently working as a Mangrove Conservation Officer at Blue Ventures Conservation (BVC) in Toliara, Madagascar and this international mangrove training course has been the first official training course on mangroves I have been part of. However, I acquired knowledge and experience on mangroves through the completion of an internship with Mangrove Action Project (MAP) in Thailand. I have been on the ground with BVC for over a year now.

 Myself on the left and some other participants collecting data in the field

During the week of the training we all learned a great deal about mangroves. The objective of the training course was to build the capacity of mangrove practitioners and managers throughout the region, as mangroves are under huge pressures from human over-exploitation. Students were asked to give presentations about mangroves in their respective countries which made me aware that the problems faced by mangroves in the Western Indian Ocean region are all very similar.

Professor Kathiresan shared case studies from India in his presentations. He explained the uses of mangroves in India and how healthy mangrove buffers protected many people during the 2004 Tsunami, which I found especially informative. I also learned how local fishers protect themselves from attacks by Sundarbans Tigers by wearing a mask. Case studies from Tanzania and Kenya were shared and were both very informative and instructive.

We also had practical field studies which included a mangrove marathon and a visit to the Mikoko Pamoja Project site.  I was very enthusiastic to learn about the Mikoko Pamoja Project as it is one of the very first successful community mangrove carbon projects and could therefore act as an example for BVC, which is trying to implement a similar project in Madagascar.

 Participants taking part in the marathon field activity

The Gazi Bay’s Community has generated carbon credits through mangrove reforestation and conservation which has been very helpful as such funds are currently helping towards the development of their village. During our field visit to the Gazy Bay I was keen to learn more about this project but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time. To conclude, I believe that what I have learned during the training was very useful, especially for my work at BVC as my job focuses on working with remote mangrove communities whose lives are dependent on mangroves.  I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this informative and practical training and I would strongly recommend it to other young professional mangrove practitioners and managers in the Western Indian Ocean region.  Please take a look at the following website for application information for the next mangrove training course to be in December 2014.  http://inweh.unu.edu/mangrove-wio-region/

Group photo taken at the field site on day two of the training

For more on my work with Blue Ventures please see: 

By: Sylvia Paulot   E-mail <sylviapaulot@yahoo.com>

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