Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
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Thursday, March 18, 2010
Dr. Brian D. Keller
The Mangrove Action Project joins the world of marine conservation in mourning the loss of Dr. Brian D. Keller, who dedicated his life to conservation of ocean ecosystems, especially coral reefs and associated ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrasses. Brian was more than a colleague to MAP. Beloved husband of the treasurer of our board of directors, Fiona Wilmot, he was also a friend and staunch supporter. Brian Keller passed away on the morning of March 10.
Marine ecosystems have lost a tireless advocate who daily studied and worked on ways to better understand coral reef ecosystems to improve their management and conservation for the benefit of all people around the world. Brian used his experience and knowledge of marine research every day to apply to his role in science management and to share with others. There was no greater proponent of sound science-based management than Brian and no one more generous. His knowledge was unsurpassed and he knew how sound science could be applied to make the wisest and best-informed decisions to conserve marine resources. His wisdom informed and influenced management decisions locally, regionally, and worldwide every day, especially in the Caribbean.
At the time of his sudden death, Dr. Keller was serving as the Regional Science Coordinator for the Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Region of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He was working on a range of significant marine conservation issues from water quality to ecosystem and species-based monitoring to climate change adaptation options for management of marine protected areas. Brian supported local managers throughout the Caribbean, being unimaginably generous with his time and support. He was always ready to share his vast knowledge, available to review and comment on a colleague’s work, and eager to discuss the latest science, research, and findings and how best to apply these to conservation and improvement of coastal communities’ livelihoods and quality of life.
@ Florida's Wildlife: On the Frontline of Climate Change, Oct. 08
Brian will be greatly missed – as scientist, mentor, adviser, and friend. MAP’s staff, board, and many members and supporters join in sending our sincere condolences to Fiona and their families.
MESSAGE DURING THE 19 JANUARY 2010 LAUNCHING OF KATUNGGAN IT IBAJAY (KII) MANGROVE ECOPARK IN IBAJAY, AKLAN, PHILIPPINES
This is a speech I have waited 13 years to give, since I first visited the Bugtongbato mangroves. Make that 14 years, if we go back to 1996 when my then SEAFDEC assistant Junemie, now Dr. Lebata-Ramos, excitedly reported a beautiful mangrove patch she had seen in Ibajay. I thought she was exaggerating until another colleague confirmed her story. When I came with a SEAFDEC group in 1997, it was love at first sight! Never mind the mangroves I have visited all over the Philippines and SE Asia, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Africa and even Florida in the USA – the captivating BugtongBato-Naisud mangroves will always be my favorite.
So I was shocked to find during that visit that many trees were girdled – that is, the bark was scraped, and I asked the Barangay (Village) Head Why? He replied – to kill them by setting on fire (dag-oban kag patyon), following the advice of a government environment official that in order to make a livelihood from the mangroves, he should plant bakhaw. As the forest is dominated by Avicennia, locally knows as apiapi or bungalon, he concluded that he would need to kill these first. So I pleaded – please save the trees because I will need them for my research – which was not really true at the time. But return to Iloilo I did, to obtain research funds for Mangrove-Friendly Aquaculture.
In the course of my field work until early 2000, I invited Filipino scientists, among them Dr. Rex Sadaba of the UP Visayas and Dr. Josette Biyo of the Philippine Science High School, who in turn brought their own students, and also foreign scientists from Japan, Sweden, UK, etc. One particular day I remember walking in the Ibajay market with an Australian mangrove expert in tow, when a vendor asked me pointblank: Is he your husband? She thought I was a native Akeanon who had brought my Caucasian spouse to the famous beaches of Boracay. She could not appreciate that there was/is something in Ibajay far more beautiful and precious than Boracay.
Since then, my experiences suggest that these mangroves are not only enchanting but also enchanted, protected. Please do not laugh if I tell this story of the first time Junemie and I visited the centuries-old trees some 800 meters and 10 minutes by footwalk from here. At the time, it took more than an hour through the slippery jungle to finally locate the Avicennia rumphiana stand. When we had our fill of admiring the magnificent trees, we started the return trip as the sun was going down. To our dismay, our local guide confessed that he had never seen that part of the forest so we kept going around in circles. After what seemed an eternity, we finally found the road. My own interpretation is that the spirits of the forest were testing us, and finally saw our good intentions. Earlier in the 1980s, People Power of a handful of local folks and officials prevented chainsaws from turning the forest into fishponds.
So I say to those who visit these mangroves – be pure in heart, respect the plants, do not cut their branches nor throw garbage. Unfortunately, this was not the case during my past visits, for each time I would notice a cuttabigi here or a burned piag-ao there. These are just 2 of the 27 species of true mangroves in this EcoPark, as documented in the Handbook of Philippine Mangroves (co-authored with Rex, Junemie and Jon Altamirano). You will see their scientific and local names on the nameplates hanging from the trees and also in the poster inside the Information Center. By the way, there are other posters that describe the importance of mangroves, their uses, and so on, so I will not go into that.
More recently, we simplified the 106-page book to a shorter, laminated Mangrove Field Guide which is cheaper and easier to carry. My fondest hope is to see Filipinos, both adults and children (including my 2 apos surnamed Tirol who happen to be Akeanons) going to the forest and appreciating it. Toward this end, my Pew grant has funded the writing and publication of Mangrove Modules for elementary schools. Last November, we distributed some 2,000 copies of these Modules with the accompanying Teacher`s Manual to 80 schools throughout Panay.
May I end by saying that this Park is only one livelihood option for our partner POs – the Bugtongbato Fishers Association and the Naisud Marine and Aquatic Organization. There is also food processing in collaboration with the Aklan State University, and hopefully more research studies from UPV and even foreign universities. In the early 2000s, SEAFDEC made it possible for me to do research in these mangroves. In 2005, the Pew grant provided PhP100,000 for the first part of the footwalk, but it was a solo flight project for me. In 2008 came the ZSL grant which not only provides funds from London, but also the best human resources available -- my staff of 9 from ZSL and Pew. Without all of them, we will not be here today.
Finally, on behalf of ZSL and also SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (where I am Scientist Emerita), our deepest thanks go to our PO partners and LGU officials – Mayor Lulu (Ma. Lourdes Miraflores), Vice Mayor Sta. Maria, SB Solidum, Cap. Inguillo and Cap. Gregorio, and their support staff.
Good day and enjoy the mangroves!
SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department
Friday, March 5, 2010
It has been said that the greatest threat in the race to avert the global climate crisis is business as usual. At the highest level, business as usual is at the roots of current threats to one of the most internationally important ecosystems in Kenya: the Lamu Archipelago via the proposal to build a second national port for the country and situate it in the very heart of the archipelago.
The Kenyan government seems intent on developing a second national port and has gone to great lengths and distances to secure interest and capital for the project – as far as Qatar and China, which, until recently, had seemed to be the prominent cash cows for the existing proposal. Financial injection for the port hinged for a time on the leasing of 40,000 ha of land to Qatar in return for financing a proportion of the port. The land proposed to be leased lay within the Tana River Delta, an area of international conservation importance, itself, which is already facing a myriad of threats. However, as recently as a month ago, Qatar shelved the lease which might have made the port unviable. China, however, has stepped up its involvement further and agreed to fund the project. The project is by no means a small one - rather a 1.23 trillion shilling or, roughly, 17 billion dollar, venture. Cited estimates for the construction cover 1,000 acres in Lamu District, including plans for an oil refinery and terminal, international airport and railway track to Juba in Southern Sudan. In Lamu alone, 6,000 families are likely to be displaced by the project but this figure barely scratches the surface of the much larger impact the port is likely to have.
Please take action to save the Lamu Archipelago. Send the action letter below or your own to the Prime Minister of Kenya by copying it into your email. Please cc. it to the following leaders:
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to speak out against the reckless plans to build a second national port in Lamu. As you know, mangrove forests are the first line of defense against sea level rise associated with global warming. Their value in carbon storage alone is very significant and mangroves are threatened along the entire East African coastline. To build this port, the mangrove forests in the Manda Bay area from Mkanda Channel to Dodori Creek would require extensive felling. East Africa has consistently lost mangrove cover over the past quarter century and increased rates of degradation would seriously imperil this fragile ecosystem and reduce its capacity to mitigate climate change effects.
Cited estimates for the construction of the second port cover 1,000 acres in the region of Manda Bay in Lamu District, including plans for an oil refinery and terminal, international airport and railway track to Southern Sudan. The tremendous destruction to the natural environment from such developments can only be guessed at without public record of Environmental Impact Assessment. In 1980, 60,000 hectares off the coast north of Lamu was designated a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Project in recognition of the international conservation importance of the north-eastern coastal region. The Dodori Creek mouth, proposed to be developed, sits at the edge of this biosphere reserve at coordinates 2°03’ S and 41°00’ E. The environmental impact alone, not to mention the effects on local fishermen and farmers, would negate the intention of designation of this site to preserve the biodiversity, natural resources and ecology of the area through management that incorporates local people. Construction would also impact two national reserves to the north of the proposed port site: Kiunga Marine and Dodori National Reserve.
Local people have never been consulted yet local farmers in the proposed location for this port were visited in January of 2009 by an official delegation and told that some of the 6,000 families likely to be displaced by the project will be compensated for land if the Port Authority decides to proceed with its plans. In 1997, under public pressure, the World Bank halted a plan to relocate 600 families in the center of a critical habitat for a threatened primate species in the Tana Delta because moving people for plants and animals was wrong, but the government can evict 6000 families in Lamu and others in the Tana River for economic reasons?
At a pivotal moment in history when the world faces the threat of climate change, degradation of such an important marine environment in Lamu for purposes associated with extracting, processing, and transporting more fossil fuels and other goods seems to fly in the face of international protocols aimed at reducing carbon emissions. It also suggests that Kenya has no compunction in violating international designations such as the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve boundary established in 1980 which would be negated by such large scale industrial activities along its edge. Please reconsider both the site for the 2nd port and, potentially, the necessity of building a 2nd port at all pending environmental impact assessment.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
A fun and exciting Art Contest for children 6 to 14 years old
We invite all primary school children from tropical and sub-tropical nations, and whose schools are located near mangroves, to create art telling us "why mangroves are important to me and my community".
Selected winners will be published in a 2011 calendar to be distributed internationally to raise awareness of mangrove forest ecology. This creative contest aims to promote appreciation and awareness of mangrove forests, and to encourage and listen to creative voices of children living in mangrove areas.
Help us launch this program in your school by contacting science and art teachers in your area and encourage them to work together on this fun and innovative project.
What kind of art can be submitted?
Technique: Paint, color pencil, ink, collage, pastel, crayons, etc
Dimensions: Canvas, or paper, 45 cms x 30 cms. (18 in. x 12 in)
The Art Work should be in a format horizontal (long length across, the shorter length vertical), in order to fit on the calendar page. (We had received wonderful art work in a vertical format, but sadly were unable to use it. )
Artist Identification: On the back of each art work please write in English: the full name and age of the artist, the school name, address, city or town, country, and title of art work.
Age Limit: from 6-13 years old
Mailing instructions: The artwork has to be mailed in a small tube, such as the ones for mailing posters. Make sure the art is sent in certified or registered mail to MAP, PO Box 1854, Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA.
How will entries be judged?
Each school will hold its own exhibition and select 3 or more winners in art. Winning entries will be collected in each country by a participating NGO and then mailed to MAP's office to be judged by a team of artists.
What are the prizes?
-1st Prize will receive a certificate + calendar and the recognition of being published in an International calendar with global distribution.
-2 nd Prize '' ''
-3 rd Prize '' ''
School will receive 2 Calendars
NGOs will receive10 Calendars.
When is the deadline?
Please, we must receive the artwork in MAP's office by the end of July, 2009.
Mailed to: PO Box 1854,.Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA
Please mail in a tube or flat in a box, but not folded!
Who do I contact?.
Please let us know if your school plans to participate by contacting:
Calendar Project Coordinator
c/o Mangrove Action Project
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279, USA
tel./ fax (360) 452-5866
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and
All entries selected at the national level should be submitted to the same address.
Your local NGO contact is: (Please fill this in.)
Some suggested Field Trip and Classroom Lessons
It is suggested that this contest could coincide with an Associated Mangrove Ecology Educational Project with the children. This lesson will highlight the importance of mangrove forests for the environment, for their community, for fishermen and/or for the associated mangrove forest fauna. The intent of this educational project is to help the participating children better comprehend the important role mangroves play in their lives and for their communities.
1- Information and guidance in the classroom, aided by text books, mangrove curriculum, slides and videos.
2.- Eco-Study Field trips for firsthand observation with the teacher and/ or a local resource person, where they can observe the myriad forms of life that inhabit the mangroves, such as the many colored birds, fish, crabs, mollusks, reptiles, mammals, and insects, while also learning about the unique characteristics of the associated mangrove plants and trees.
3.- During, or after, the field trips, the children can hold interviews with their parents or local fishermen about the mangroves in their region, learning more about the history of the area's mangrove forest, as well as why they are important and what the problems are when the mangroves are lost.
4 - As a result of this research, the children may wish to create artwork for the 2011 calendar art competition.
Monica Alicia Paz Gutierrez-Quarto,
Calendar Project Coordinator
Mangrove Action Project
Alfredo Quarto, Executive Director
Mangrove Action Project
PO Box 1854
Port Angeles, WA 98362-0279
phone/ fax (360) 452-5866
web site: http://www.mangroveactionproject.org