IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, signed a Euro 2.3 million (or US$3.4 million) Pacific Mangrove Initiative project with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), on Monday December 7th.
This IUCN project, entitled Mangrove Ecosystems for Climate Change and Livelihoods (MESCAL), will involve five countries: Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and is due to be completed at the end of 2013.
The primary goal of MESCAL is to help reverse recent trends in the loss of mangroves, increase resilience of the people of the Pacific to climate change, and provide natural insurance against the effects of climate change and extreme events.
Mangrove habitats are acknowledged to be important to the people of the Pacific, particularly as they are valuable sources of many different types of food, including fishes, crabs, prawns, shellfish, and not to forget the seeds that are also consumed in many parts of the Pacific. Mangroves are an important source of firewood and building material for housing, as well as other products such as dyes that are used in masi-making. The physical presence of mangroves along our coastlines and rivers also provide the first line of defence against cyclones, high winds and storm surges. Mangrove ecosystems are also important Carbon sinks. Thus mangroves provide natural adaptation to the effects of climate change, serve as natural insurance against climate change, and contribute towards the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite such values, mangroves throughout the Pacific are being degraded or destroyed due to their use as rubbish dumps, overharvesting, reclamation to make way for tourist resorts, urban development, housing, and even due to the proliferation of squatter or informal settlements in the ‘no-mans’ mangrove areas.
The MESCAL project will help participating countries invest in stakeholder based management of mangroves and associated ecosystems by developing sound evidence- based policies, plans and practices, and by targeted capacity development of government, NGO, and community members as appropriate in mangrove conservation practices and rehabilitation. This interdisciplinary applied research and development project will also involve IUCN Member, the University of the South Pacific, and collaborating partners: World Fish, and SPREP , and many government agencies and NGOs in the participating countries.
IUCN is proud to be associated with the German Government’s International Climate Initiative whose focus is on supporting “flagship projects” that help to implement the 2008 Bali Roadmap on climate change.
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