Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Solomon Islands & Mangrove Carbon

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/2716-mangrove-project-workshop-starts-today

Mangrove project workshop starts today
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 11:0

THE Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology is partnering with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources as well as the WorldFish Center to implement the Pacific Mangrove Initiative – Mangrove EcoSystems for Climate Change Adaptation and Livelihoods.

The project’s pre-inception workshops are being held this week in Honiara, starting today and running for three days.

The workshops aim to develop the project design and the work program for the next four years.

This is a region wide project coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which focuses on the management of mangrove ecosystems in order to build resilience to climate change and improve the livelihoods of people in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

This project aims to increase awareness about why mangroves are so important and how they contribute to people’s livelihoods, while conserving biodiversity and responding to the threats posed by climate change.

Tia Masolo, Deputy Director of the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology says that the importance of these trees is often underestimated.

“Mangroves provide the people of Solomon Islands with many benefits and the Mangrove EcoSystems for Climate Change Adaptation and Livelihoods project aims to improve mangrove ecosystem management so that everyone can profit from them.”

This project will work towards implementing some of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology policies and programmes on conservation of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.

Mangroves and our islands

Mangroves are a very important resource for Solomon Islands because they provide homes and food for marine life, protect the coastline from storms and erosion and provide materials for local communities.

In the Solomon Islands mangroves are often cut down and cleared to make way for buildings or logging wharfs or used as a rubbish dump site because people do not appreciate their value.

In some places, population pressure is putting such a high demand on mangroves (for building materials and firewood) that there are very few mangroves left in these areas.

This project aims to increase awareness about why mangroves are so important and how they contribute to people’s livelihoods, while conserving biodiversity and responding to the threats posed by climate change.

Mangroves are trees that live on the coast, halfway between land and sea. Their roots grow in both salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the land.

Tia Masolo, Deputy Director of the Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology says that the importance of these trees is often underestimated.

“Mangroves might not look like much, but they are incredibly useful for many aspects of coastal life,” said Mr Masolo.

“By simply just protecting our mangrove forests or replanting them, we can provide basic needs for people – like more fish in the sea, protected coastlines, renewable firewood supply and much more”.

Mangroves provide a home for birdlife and many marine creatures. Their decaying leaves provide food for crabs, prawns and fish.

Some baby marine creatures live in mangrove forests, protected by the trees until they are big enough to go into deeper water, while other animals like mud crabs and prawns live there permanently.

Mangroves also act as a feeding ground for bigger fish.

Mr Masolo says that mangroves are not just important for animals, but provide many resources and benefits to communities.

“They can be a source of firewood and building material as long as the amount taken from the forests can be replaced by natural growth,” he said.

“Coastal communities eat mangrove fruit and shellfish.

“Many species of fish that are commercially important breed in mangroves and mangroves help to sustain small scale fishing that communities rely on for food.

“In protecting mangroves we are also protecting our future.”

Pacific Islanders are extremely vulnerable to climate change and Mr Masolo says that mangroves also can be effective in helping communities combat the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change may result in more extreme weather events and mangroves protect coastal communities from the impacts of cyclones, storms and big waves.

“Mangroves can be used as a form of adaptation or as a way in which communities can make changes that help them cope with climate change impacts such as erosion caused by sea level rise and bad weather,” he said.

Mangroves provide a network of roots that hold the earth together, preventing coastal erosion.

Above the ground, the raised roots act as a trap for bits of sand and coral, building up the coastline. In this way, mangroves can extend the shoreline.

Mangroves also help to reduce global warming because they soak up the carbon dioxide which is being trapped in the atmosphere and warming the earth.

When mangroves are cut down, they increase carbon dioxide emissions because there are fewer trees to absorb the excess carbon.

“If communities plant more mangroves then they are helping to mitigate climate change,” Mr Masolo said.

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