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Sea Grant Blue Carbon Law Symposium May 17-18, 2023 in Athens, GA
Decades of Mangrove Forest Change: What does it mean for nature, people and the climate?
GLOBAL - Decades of Mangrove Forest Change: What does it mean for nature, people and the climate? reviews the extent of mangrove forest cover and considers the potential consequences of changes in mangrove extent for more than 1,000 mangrove associated species including birds, fish, plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Further, the report analyses the potential consequences of changes in mangrove extent on carbon storage and for small scale fishers, demonstrating that restoration is clearly needed but showcases encouraging examples of mangrove recovery. The report highlights the need to improve our knowledge of what species use and depend upon mangroves in order to better understand the consequences of changes in mangroves on people and our natural world. It also emphasises the need for integrated thinking, by conserving, restoring and sustainably managing mangrove ecosystems in a coherent and inclusive way, and coordinating management and governance actions across local, national, regional and international scales. We urgently need to transform our relationship with nature and transition to a more equitable and sustainable future in which activities that result in ecosystem loss and degradation are a thing of the past.
GLOBALMachine learning could help save mangrove forests
GLOBAL - Mangrove forests, essential components of tropical and subtropical coastal zones, provide numerous goods and ecosystem services crucial for ecological balance. However, these critical habitats are under threat as they continue to disappear and degrade across the globe. One way to facilitate effective conservation and promote policies for mangrove protection is to carefully assess these habitats, monitor their changes, and identify fragmented areas. Unfortunately, obtaining this vital information is often a challenging endeavor. Dr. Neda Bihamta Toosi, a postdoc at Isfahan University of Technology in Iran specializes in landscape pattern changes using remote sensing. She explained that since mangrove forests are located in tidal zones and marshy areas, they are hardly accessible. In a recent study published in the journal Nature Conservation, Dr. Bihamta Toosi, alongside a team of authors, investigated the potential of using machine learning to classify these delicate ecosystems. To compare the performance of various combinations of satellite images and classification techniques, the researchers assessed how well each method could map mangrove ecosystems. “We developed a novel method with a focus on landscape ecology for mapping the spatial disturbance of mangrove ecosystems,” said Dr. Bihamta Toosi. “The provided disturbance maps facilitate future management and planning activities for mangrove ecosystems in an efficient way, thus supporting the sustainable conservation of these coastal areas.”
Longstanding behavioural stability in West Africa extends to the Middle Pleistocene at Bargny, coastal Senegal
Editors note: We include this story to highlight the importance mangroves have played in the survival of the human species throughout history
AFRICAN CONTINENT - Middle Stone Age (MSA) technologies first appear in the archaeological records of northern, eastern and southern Africa during the Middle Pleistocene epoch. The absence of MSA sites from West Africa limits evaluation of shared behaviours across the continent during the late Middle Pleistocene and the diversity of subsequent regionalized trajectories. Here we present evidence for the late Middle Pleistocene MSA occupation of the West African littoral at Bargny, Senegal, dating to 150 thousand years ago. Palaeoecological evidence suggests that Bargny was a hydrological refugium during the MSA occupation, supporting estuarine conditions during Middle Pleistocene arid phases. The stone tool technology at Bargny presents characteristics widely shared across Africa in the late Middle Pleistocene but which remain uniquely stable in West Africa to the onset of the Holocene. We explore how the persistent habitability of West African environments, including mangroves, contributes to distinctly West African trajectories of behavioural stability. Mangroves have high habitat heterogeneity and accessible subsistence resources, making them potential hotspots for Pleistocene forager populations. Adaptation to exploit these resources has the potential to open new axes for population expansions in West Africa.
AMERICASChanges in mangrove coverage classification criteria could impact the conservation of mangroves in Mexico
MEXICO - Accurate estimates of habitat extent and rates of change are crucial inputs for the global, regional, and national assessments that guide policy-making and prioritize strategies. This can contribute to an understanding of ecosystems in the landscape for their use, management, and preservation. Mangroves are one of the types of ecosystems in which estimation discrepancies have been analyzed to determine the impacts of data quality on conservation and policy-making. We identify significant discrepancies in the extent of the last map of Mexican mangroves (i.e., 2020) produced by the Mexican Mangrove Monitoring System (MMMS). We performed a comparative assessment between the 2020 and 2015 maps by using geographical information systems to analyze the spatial extent across these years and estimate the accuracy of map changes with airborne data. We observed a spurious gain of 129,531 ha between 2015 and 2020, including 102,610 ha (79% of total changes) in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and its surroundings. Furthermore, the mangrove definition changed, causing the MMMS to map other coastal wetlands with the presence of Rhizophora mangle scrubs dispersed in the landscape. The analysis of MMMS airborne data demonstrates that this significant increase is due to changes in mangrove mapping criteria and definitions.
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Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch site threatens wildlife
The site in Boca Chica, south Texas is surrounded by protected lands that host a huge range of local wildlife including turtles and hundreds of bird species. David Newstead, director of the nonprofit Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, felt sick as he saw the fireball explode on the launchpad. SpaceX’s site is surrounded by state and federally protected lands. The explosion littered parts of the delicate ecosystem of the Boca Chica tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley national wildlife refuge – comprising tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes that host a huge range of wildlife – with rocket debris “I knew from the other explosions that the rocket would be scattered all over the refuge,” Newstead said. Cleanup took three months, he added The private space race is already causing concern about the potential climate impacts of the fuel needed to propel the rockets. But environmentalists on the ground in south Texas say SpaceX’s testing site is having more immediate impacts. The refuge is made up of parcels the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been buying or leasing since 1979 when the federal agency came up with its plan to preserve as much of the land tucked against the Gulf Coast and the mouth of the Rio Grande River as possible, creating a patchwork of federally managed refuge land.
Kennedy Space Center ‘Rescues’ Mangroves During Shoreline Restoration
USA - With its 140,000 acres located along the Atlantic coastline and within the Indian River Lagoon estuary, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has long taken measures to ensure its shorelines remain resilient. The most recent effort includes rescuing some of the greatest allies against erosion: mangroves. “Mangroves have a root structure that stabilizes the shoreline – nature’s original infrastructure for shoreline protection,” said Jeffrey Collins, environmental protection specialist in the spaceport’s Environmental Management Branch. “They also provide structure for nesting and roosting birds, habitat and nursery areas for aquatic species, and benefits to lagoon water quality.” A team member from Kennedy’s Environmental Management Branch works to remove a mangrove seedling on the shoreline of Kennedy Athletic, Recreation, and Social (KARS) Park at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 12, 2023. The seedlings will be replanted after upcoming restoration efforts to create a living shoreline more resistant to erosion. It’s an odd concept thinking mangroves need to be ‘rescued’ because they do really well in harsh environments,” said Collins. “While the project already includes some planting for stabilization, these additional mangroves will provide a jump-start toward a fully protected shoreline with ecological benefits.”
A Philippine town and its leaders show how mangrove restoration can succeed
PHILIPPINES - Working quietly before a bucket of rabbitfish, known locally as danggit, two women precisely cut open each fish with square knives, gutting and deboning before repeating the process. A third woman scrubs each mirror-image fish fillet, about the size of a cigarette pack. “Today is a slow work day, but during peak seasons, such as November and December, we have a long table of 30 workers here for a ton of danggit catch,” Racquel Diño told Mongabay during a visit in mid-February. Processing danggit into dried, salted fish has become her main source of income, as it has for the two other women working today. Danggit graze on seagrass that cover 800 hectares (nearly 2,000 acres) of the seabed off the town of Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon province, 360 miles (580 kilometers) south of Manila. Prieto Diaz’s integrated marine ecosystems of seagrass meadows, coral reefs and mangrove forests are thriving, thanks to more than three decades of community-led coastal reforestation and protection efforts. With a stable population of diverse trees, its 1,034-hectare (2,555-acre) mangrove ecosystem has grown to be the largest in the Bicol region, the southeastern-most peninsula of the main island of Luzon.
The world’s best rainforest guardians already live ther
INDONESIA - By midmorning, beams of tropical sun cut through the rainforest canopy, illuminating a bamboo hut in a rare clearing of trees. Inside, a wrinkled old man, sitting cross-legged with his eyes shut, whispers blessings to the Earth. After the spiritual leader, the Ammatoa, goes silent, groups of men wearing dark indigo sarongs jump to their feet and head into the forest carrying an offering of rattan baskets full of rice, bananas and lighted candles. “The Earth is angry with us,” said Budi, a barefoot boy crouching on the hut’s edge. “That is why the weather is getting worse. There are more rains and floods. It is getting hotter. It is because we have sinned.” This ritual is known as the Andingingi, held once a year by the Kajang, a tribe from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Like many parts of the world, their land has been hit by more extreme weather because of climate change. But as satellite imagery shows, the Kajang’s dense primary forest is free from roads and development, soaking up violent rains that devastate other parts of the island. As global deforestation continues at alarming rates, the empowerment of Indigenous peoples such as the Kajang is emerging as a key way to protect the world’s rainforests. A spate of recent research suggests that when armed with land rights, these communities, whose members manage half the world’s land and 80 percent of its biodiversity, are remarkably effective custodians.
Mangroves on Eighty Mile Beach
AUSTRALIA - An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed the western coast of Australia where mangrove forests thrive along Eighty Mile Beach. These mangrove forests are located within the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park, a 220-kilometer (140-mile) stretch of protected beach and coastal waters in western Australia. The marine park includes the rocky shores of Cape Keraudren, where a coastal nature reserve provides access to mangrove forests and seagrass meadows. The area shown in this photograph is an example of an intertidal zone ecosystem—where the coastline is above seawater at low tide and submerged in seawater at high tide. As low tide approaches, the ebb current takes seawater toward the Indian Ocean and exposes salt flats, intertidal flats, and mangrove forests. As high tide approaches, the flood current takes seawater inland and floods the coastline. During both incoming and outgoing tides, seawater flows through coastal waterways called tidal creeks. Mangrove trees withstand the fluctuation between high and low tide by means of an elongated root system that is exposed at low tide. Local fauna, such as the north-western mangrove seasnake, can be found living in this root system. Other species, like the mangrove golden whistler, are found in the tree canopy.
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*Articles in this newsletter may mention practices being used and/or show exagerated results being claimed without proof. Stories are presented here in effort to show mangrove related activity around the world and do not necessarily reflect Mangrove Action Project's views or mangrove restoration best-practices.
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Partnering with mangrove forest communities, grassroots NGOs, researchers and local governments to conserve and restore mangrove forests and related coastal ecosystems, MAP's news blog is a recap of news stories about mangroves and mangrove related issued globally. MAP promotes community based efforts to restore hydrology and health of the mangrove ecosystem and surrounding dependent species. Articles in this newsletter aid researchers and others by providing latest news about mangrove issues.
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MAP News #571 - May 6, 2023
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