Thursday, July 6, 2017

A workshop on Lessons Learned using Community based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR)

By Jaruwan Enright, Field Project Manager

The Mangrove Action Project (MAP) in collaboration with the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) and Raks Thai Foundation (CARE-Thailand) organized a two days workshop on “Lessons Learned from Community based Ecological Mangrove Restoration” which was held in Krabi on July 1-2, 2017.   There were 24 participants, including seven staff, and seventeen representatives from the CBEMR community network from the villages of Thale Nok, Ranong Province, Tha-sanook, Phang Nga, Nai Nang, Koh Klang and Thung Yor, Krabi Province and Bang Khang Khao and Leam Makham, Trang Province.  The workshop was facilitated by two resource persons from RECOFTC and two from Raks Thai Foundation.

Figure 1: Group photo of the workshop participants
MAP has been working on mangrove restoration utilizing the CBEMR method with mangrove communities on the Andaman Coast (Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi and Trang provinces) since 2009 under a number of different implementing projects.  CBEMR uses hydrological restoration to support the natural regeneration of mangroves in former shrimp ponds and degraded mangroves.  MAP has nine small-scale CBEMR demonstration sites, in different coastal communities on the Andaman Coast, Southern Thailand. In the last eight years we have gained vital hands-on experience and built strong relationships with the partner communities.

This workshop aimed to build a more formal network among the CBEMR sites and to increase capacity within the communities. The output from this workshop will be part of a Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) book which will be prepared by RECOFTC. In addition, the lessons drawn out of this workshop will be further discussed and shared with the experiences of other partners throughout the country at the National Forest and Landscape Restoration Forum on 7 September 2017 in Bangkok.

The Key lessons learned and shared among participants at the workshop are:

Figure 2: One of the key leaders presenting his CBEMR lessons learned
1) The process of restoration site access provides an opportunity to work with many partners: A lot of attention was paid to dialogue with key leaders and the community members about the restoration projects from the very early planning stages.  Local village chiefs, key community leaders who are keen in conservation, local government and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) were consulted with and efforts were made to access the potential restoration sites in the community and also gain their support for the project.  This process has been found to not only provide an opportunity to work with relevant partners but also an important step for success.  It has also been shown that it is important for community members to work together and to fight together to get the common use forest area returned to the community.

2) CBEMR steps highlighted community local knowledge: Participants have learned a great deal about the need to think through many steps before jumping directly to planting. The steps emphasise using nature and building capacity to use local knowledge for restoration.  CBEMR requires a lot of participants’ time to monitor and to learn about how to restore the sites.  The restoration process takes a long time, but it is worth the effort to achieve sustainable results.  When MAP have group visits and taking time-lapse photos at their site this helps to motivate the community members to monitor and discuss solutions and improvements to problems.  For example, deciding what species should be planted, tidal flushing monitoring and making corrections if there are any blockages or silting of channels.

Figure 3: MAP staff facilitating the session
3) Community livelihoods not only help to generate supplementary income, but also empower the community members to work together on conservation.  

4) Building capacity of the youths needed to extend the CBEMR: Encouraging and working with youth and school students has positive impacts as they may take up  the CBEMR methodology and share knowledge and experiences amongst themselves and other coastal mangrove communities in Thailand.    

On the second day of the workshop, Mr. Donnapat Tamonsuwan and Mr. Sumree Khaemoh from Raks Thai Foundation led a training session on how to produce video clip stories using a mobile phone.  This session taught community representatives to share their own experience using CBEMR through videos which anyone who has a mobile phone can produce.  Video is an effective tool, which even community people can now use with simple smart phone technology to share their first-hand experience with others.

The workshop ended with all participants being enthusiastic and committed to producing a 5-7 minutes video about their own lessons learned about CBEMR.

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