Natural restoration is much more effective than planting
We combine this knowhow with incentivising communities to protect the spaces where the mangroves can grow, by offering a deal in which communal work on ecosystem management is recompensed with microcredit and training for local development projects. Our flagship programme is Mangrove Capital Africa, a ten-year initiative we began with DOB Ecology, a Dutch environmental philanthropy group. It builds on a three-year project in the Cacheu River National Park in Guinea Bissau, funded by the Turing Foundation, which has the largest dense assemblage of mangroves in West Africa, and in which several hundreds of mangroves have been restored. With this new initiative, the work is upscaled to the Saloum Delta on the border between Senegal and Gambia, as well as the Rufiji Delta in Tanzania. An assessment during the year found that more than 11,000 people in the Saloum delta had increased their incomes thanks to credit we advanced for small-scale pro- jects such as beekeeping and home gardening activities. In return they abandoned over-fishing and excessive harvest - ing of many mangroves for firewood.
been taken over by cattle herders. The aim is to scale this up in 2020 to restore 200 hectares ourselves, and to train villagers to do more. We are also working, initially with six villages, on developing alternative livelihoods to ease pres- sure on the mangroves, including oyster farming and honey production. Our work on the Rufiji delta is the latest example of our innovative efforts to protect and restore mangroves across the tropics. We have won a reputation for encouraging natural regeneration rather than the planting projects more widely adopted. Research has shown that planting man- groves has a very low success rate. Typically, 80 per cent or more fail to grow, either because they are the wrong spe- cies or because coastal conditions are wrong. “Natural restoration is much more effective than planting,” says our technical officer for deltas and coasts, Menno de Boer. This is possible because in most mangrove regions there are still fruits and propagules floating in tidal waters. Given the chance, they will settle in the mud and grow of their own accord. Our aim is to give them that chance, through ecosystem management that reduces erosion, prevents the encroachment of aquaculture, and provides a stable coastline for regeneration.
To bolster public support for this work, we reached more of the 100,000 people living in and around the Saloum
One of the values of mangroves is that they function as fish nurseries.
Wetlands Annual Review 2019
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