Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mangrove online course by The Nature Conservancy and the UN University: “Mangroves Biodiversity and Ecosystem”

By: Isabel Robinson, MAP Volunteer Intern

Some months ago I decided to come to Thailand and do an internship in mangrove conservation, I’ve always been environment conscious and tried to be involve with projects and ideas that promote social change to help our planet. But this will be the first time I am actually doing something that has a bigger and more tangible result. I am from a city in the mountains, so I know more about habitats and ecosystems that exist 2000mts above sea level, or rainforests, due to the amazing and wide rainforest area in my country, Ecuador, than about mangroves. After applying to MAP, I decided that since I don’t have much experience or knowledge about mangroves I should start learning, and luckily I came across with a free online course. 

This new online course is recommended to anyone that wants to learn about mangroves, there are no requirements and it gives you a deeper understanding of this unique and critically important ecosystem, not just for tropical coastal communities by for all humans everywhere. The course was created to bring awareness of the importance of mangroves in a clear and interesting way. It takes approximately 14 hours, although it can take a bit longer if there are things that are completely new to the reader or if English is not your first language, in my case, both. Anyone can do it and it doesn't matter if you’ve studied something related to coastal ecosystems, or if you are completely new to the subject, or have little or no science background at all.  

There are ten units, each of them taking between 1 and 2 hours to complete and divided in lessons. The number of lessons in each unit depends, for example; the second unit ‘Ecosystem Structure and Function’ is divided in 6 lessons, and the third unit ‘Floral Diversity’ has only 3 lessons. I stay longer in the units that I find more interesting and that I really want to understand, sometimes it takes me more than 2 hours just because I’m  making notes or googling words to get a deeper understanding of them. Some lessons contain a small test at the end to check your understanding on the material, with 80% being the minimum passing mark.  The great thing is that you can do the course at your pace, when and where you want as long as you a PC, laptop, tablet. Another fantastic thing is that if you want to learn more about any unit, at the beginning of each, you have a full list of references and additional reading.

What you will be learning in this course is an overview of how mangroves evolved, their geographical distribution, importance to humans and coastal ecology, and global status and threats to mangroves, the role of the mangrove in climate change and an introduction to national policies and laws and international agreements that affect mangrove conservation and biodiversity. 

The whole course is worth it and since it is also dynamic it could be used as material for teaching, every unit can be downloaded once you enrol at, and the graphics and photos are enjoyable and easy to comprehend.

“Mangroves Biodiversity and Ecosystem”  is one of the 16 interesting  courses offered by The Nature Conservancy. All of these courses are environment and conservation related, such as “Conservation Measures” or “Great Lakes Inform”. You can find them all at

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