Thursday, October 27, 2016

MAP News Issue 402, October 29, 2016

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The MAP News
402nd Edition                               October 29, 2016

FEATURE STORY

UNESCO calls for shelving Rampal project
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BANGLADESH – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has recommended that Bangladesh shelve the Rampal coal-fired power plant, which is being constructed in close proximity to the Sundarbans. It said the project would cause irreparable damage to the forest and should be relocated. The three-member Unesco expert team which visited Bangladesh in March, made this appeal in their report submitted to the government. They said at the moment the Sundarbans would not be moved from the world heritage list to the endangered world heritage list, but requested for the Rampal project to be shelved and for Unesco’s recommendations to be followed. They said a decision in this regard would be taken at the 2017 World Heritage Commission meet. The Unesco report said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report found many discrepancies between the statements of Rampal project construction firm Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company and the tender documents. During their Bangladesh visit, the team was only allowed to meet a limited number of experts. And the interaction with the local people was also organised by the company.
 
AFRICA
 
Benin launches Mangroves ecosystems restoration pilot
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BENIN – Benin’s government with the help of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently launched a restoration of Mangroves Ecosystem and Forest protection pilot programme. The project began with an awareness seminar on the importance of mangroves in biodiversity balance. The programme aims to contribute to the welfare and food security of local populations. “We know that these resources are increasingly threatened by logging and degradation. They must therefore restore those ecosystem to also promote the maintenance of biodiversity and the production of goods and services, that these resources are used for, to provide for the population,” said Dr. Antoine Elie Padonou, FAO Consultant. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) last year warned that 70% of the mangroves of Benin will disappear if nothing is done, with many implications including the destruction of fishing and spawning grounds. READ MORE
 
Ethiopia’s vulnerable tropical forests are key to securing future of wild coffee
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ETHIOPIA - Coffee is the drink of choice for millions of us. But the world’s second-most traded commodity originates in Ethiopia – and its home is under threat. Ethiopia isn’t all dusty deserts – far from it. The country also contains rugged highlands and lush, tropical forests. Coffea arabica grows here in its original, wild form. The forests of south-west Ethiopia are considered to be the birthplace of coffee and the centre of its genetic diversity. But these forests and this gene pool are under pressure. It is already one of the last major woodlands remaining in Ethiopia, and deforestation over the past 40 years has resulted in the loss of one-third of the south-west’s forest cover. We risk losing the forests entirely in coming decades. It is critical that these forests are protected. Commercially grown coffee has been bred over the years to ensure high yields and other useful characteristics. But it is descended from a small number of individual plants, and so relies on a relatively narrow genetic range – just 10% of the diversity found in the wild. This makes it vulnerable to pests – and climate change is an additional threat. Wild coffee on the other hand exhibits much greater genetic diversity, which increases its chances of adapting to new challenges and reduces the possibility of extinction. It represents an insurance policy for plantation coffee, in case commercial strains are ever badly damaged. READ MORE
 
Conserving mangrove forests in Senegal
SENEGAL - In Joal, a fishing town located in the south east- of the Senegal’s capital Dakar, the mangrove ecosystem is under threat. The UN estimates that Senegal has lost about 40% of its mangrove forests since the 1970s. With this in mind, there have been concerted efforts to preserve the remaining areas. “The mangrove is very important, in relation to fishing.There are a lot of animals like monkeys, hyenas which live in the mangrove,” said Abdou Karim-Sall, President, Management Committee of Marine Protected Area in Joal. Additionally, the reforestation of the mangroves has been ongoing at the Marine Protected Area in Joal. For communities that depend on the mangrove ecosystem for their livelihood, these efforts have borne fruit. The rehabilitation of the mangrove ecosystem and raising awareness on how to sustainably manage natural resources will go a long way in ensuring that the rich biodiversity is preserved for generations to come.READ MORE
 
Madagascar's Mangroves: The Ultimate Giving Trees
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MADAGASCAR - Locals already use the trees for food, fuel and building materials. Now they're burning them to make lime clay. Beyond Antananarivo—Madagascar’s capital city—signs of urbanization give way to sprawling farms and sweeping grasslands. At the coastal city of Toliara to the south, after a full day’s journey, the road turns into tire-sucking sandy track that mainly serves cattle-drawn wooden carts. For seven more hours, travelers cross a desert marked with spiny trees, where the sun bakes everything to a dusty crisp. Finally, the Bay of Assassins appears, an oasis thrumming with life, fringed with lush evergreen mangroves. A mangrove forest is unlike any other. At low tide, the trees loom from exposed mud, balancing on woody, tangled roots like ballerinas en pointe; at high tide, cool seawater erases the dry world, transforming the scene into an underwater spectacle. Glassy shrimp hover, their legs flickering with movement. Tiny metallic fry shimmer past, while adults lurk in the shadows. Slim tree roots stick up like pencils poked into the forest floor. Hermit crabs shuffle along thicker, oyster-encrusted roots that loop down through the water. READ MORE
 
ASIA
 
Mangrove online course by The Nature Conservancy and the UN University: “Mangroves Biodiversity and Ecosystem”
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THAILAND - 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. READ MORE

 
China's reforestation program a letdown for wildlife, study finds
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CHINA – A team of international researchers led by Princeton University found that the overwhelming majority of forests restored under China’s Grain-for-Green program – which amount to roughly 28 million hectares – are monocultures or compositionally simple forests. This spells bad news for biodiversity, the study shows, in a country already experiencing severe wildlife population declines. Through fieldwork in south-central Sichuan Province, the researchers determined that restored monocultures support fewer species of birds and bees – common indicators of biodiversity – than sloped cropland, the very land targeted for restoration. Even mixed forests – those restored with two to five tree species – offer only marginal benefits for birds and harbor less bee diversity than cropland. But there is still a case for optimism, the authors emphasize. Choosing mixed forests over monocultures results in a net gain in bird diversity, with no penalty for bee diversity. Switching to mixed forests is also unlikely to pose significant economic risk to rural households, highlighting the potential for biodiversity gains that the Grain-for-Green program has yet to realize. READ MORE
 
Will Sundarbans lose its world heritage status?
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BANGLADESH – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1997 declared the Sundarbans to be a world heritage site. This unique and unusual forest, replete with its rare biodiversity, has been a matter of great pride to Bangladesh. But now almost 20 years hence, UNESCO may rescind the Sundarban status due to the Rampal coal-fired power plant project. The government has chosen to reject all concerns about the dire environmental harm that the Rampal coal-fired power plant will bring about. This inflexible stand of the government may cost the Sundarbans its world heritage status. Experts, environmentalists and researchers have offered hard facts and figures to highlight the damage the project will do to the forest, but the government has swept aside all reasons as unfounded, untrue and anti-development. In March this year, UNESCO sent a three-member team to visit the Rampal project site and the Sundarbans. In June it submitted its report to the government, pointing out the specific harm that the project will cause in the forest, and recommended that it be shelved or relocated. READ MORE
 
In Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta, a rapidly disintegrating mangrove forest
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MYANMAR -In a country with forests under increasing threat, Myanmar’s southern Irrawaddy Delta is home to one last precious pocket of green: Mein-ma-hla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary. Although the Irrawaddy Delta plays host to the country’s largest remaining area of mangrove forest – 46 percent – here, too, the unique trees are rapidly disappearing and the impact has been devastating. Over the past three decades, about 83 percent of mangroves in the area have been lost, according to Win Maung of Myanmar Environmental Rehabilitation Network. Other estimates are slightly more conservative, at 75 percent. Myanmar is a known “hot spot” in Southeast Asia for mangrove loss from aquaculture, agriculture, and logging. As one of Myanmar’s most densely populated areas with an estimated population of 7.7 million, much of Irrawaddy Delta’s tree loss is caused by human beings. What is left of mangrove forests across the delta’s expanse of 13,500 square miles wasn’t enough to play the natural role of buffer when the deadly 2008 Cyclone Nargis hit. The sturdy trees have hardy, massive roots that grow in thick mud and partially above ground and are extremely resistant to high winds and flood waters. Had the Irrawaddy Delta mangrove forest been intact in 2008, experts believe that thousands of lives could have been saved. Instead, Nargis killed more than 138,000 people. Today, one small solid tract of mangroves remains nestled in a wildlife sanctuary. READ MORE

No mangroves, no land, no work
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VIETNAM – For many years now, landslides have become a common phenomenon in Kien Giang Province’s Hon Dat District, with Tho Son, Lình Huynh, and Binh Giang communes among the worst hit. The most gravely affected area is the strip of coastal land stretching from Hon Queo Hamlet in Tho Son Commune to Binh Hoa Hamlet, Binh Giang Commune. Mangrove forests have completely disappeared in some sections here. Without the protection of mangroves, waves and tides are hitting the sea dyke harder, hastening erosion and increasing the risk of breaches. Tran Trong Than, a resident of Hon Me Hamlet, said he’d been allotted a coastal mangrove forest area of six hectares 13 years ago. Erosion has reduced this to a little over 1.5 hectares at the moment. Similarly, Nguyen Van Thu of Binh Hoa Hamlet said that in the past two years alone, the coastal protection forest assigned to his family has lost some 30 metres to the sea. READ MORE
 
Gel-injected shrimp a growing problem in China
CHINA - Consumer reports of gel-filled shrimp are rising in China, according to a Chinese newspaper report. The process of injecting gel into shrimp is an illegal method of increasing their weight so they can be sold for a premium. Reports of gel-filled shrimp have been common in China for more than a decade, but are on the rise, the Beijing News reported (via the Epoch Times). Penaeus and tiger prawns, which are mostly imported from Southeast Asia, are the shrimp most frequently reported to be tainted with gel due to their large size, the article reported. Shrimp sellers found by the Beijing News reporter to be selling gel-injected shrimp blamed wholesalers for the problem. The article reported the gel is typically made from a mix of collagen, animal skin and bones, but that there is a danger more harmful – and cheaper – materials are being used. “Even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not itself be harmful, who can guarantee that the process is aseptic? ”said Liu Huiping, a member of the executive council of the Tianjin aquatic products association, told the Beijing News. READ MORE
 
AMERICA
 
A Teetering Bimini: Thinking about The Old Man and the Sea
BIMINI – From Earnest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea to his less-well-known Islands in the Stream, Bimini stars as an island full of adventure, liquor and raucous living, a man’s island, where fishing and drinking go hand-in- hand. Bimini has changed little since these books were written.  Cultural integrity is essential for such a world-class tiny island.  It is still a place of booze and boating. Bimini boasts one of the most quietly dynamic tourist industries in the country as it has always managed to maintain its personality and distinct cultural flair.  It had more barrooms than most places but also had a serious culture of lawlessness that legends like Hemingway enjoyed.  The best Bahamian equivalent to this infamy would be Joseph Spence’s  “Bimini Gal,” containing the lyrics ‘Never get a licking till I go down to Bimini’. However, we risk erasing this character by packaging everything into one de facto gated resort.  Development is essential on every island, but we lose ourselves when development is an absolute and leaves little—if anything—of the history of place and the identity of space intact. READ MORE
 
Laying foundations for the future of fishing
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USA - Cast your mind forward – 10, 15, 50 years. What do you see? The world around us is changing: resource needs are transforming alongside a booming global population. Technology is evolving exponentially, informing how we respond to daily life. Our planet’s climate and the delicate balance of our oceans are under threat. With over 3 billion people in this changing world relying on oceans for sustenance, where do fish, and fishing, fit into this future? The world’s oceans have never been higher up the political agenda. Three major international events on ocean governance took place in the last month: the second UN Preparatory Committee on a legally binding instrument for the high seas; the IUCN global congress; and the star-spangled Our Ocean Conference, addressed by President Obama, COP21 President Ségolène Royal, and Leonardo DiCaprio (to name a few). READ MORE


LAST WORD

Hello everyone,
 
My name is Isabel Robinson and I am the new volunteer here at the MAP Asia Office. I’m from Ecuador, however, I’ve been travelling around Australia and Asia for almost two years, actually after I finish here in Trang it will be two years since I left home! (I did visit for a couple of months this summer).
 
I studied Communications and Photography and next year I will be applying for the Masters in Environment (pathway in Education and Social Change) at Melbourne University. I’ll be here until January so please feel free to contact me if you need anything!
 
I’m very excited to be part of this team and very keen to learn more about conservation and mangroves, I love learning new things so if you come across with anything you think it will help me do a better job, please do send it!
 
I will always try to contribute with new and interesting information and ideas.
 
Looking forward to working with you!
 
 
Kind Regards,
 
Isabel Robinson
MAP-Asia Office Development & Field Project Assistants (Interns)
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Mangrove Action Project (MAP)
MAP - Asia Office
1/31 B-206 Chang Residence Building (Formerly Yaotak)
Vienkapang Road
Amphur Muang, Trang 92000
T H A I L A N D
 

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The world's largest mangrove forest is in danger from a massive coal plant.
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Our new short documentary, Reducing the Risk of Disaster through Nature-Based Solutions : Mangroves
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