They are plants of gigantic appearance with rampantly proliferating, impressive root networks. Mangrove forests afford protection to tropical shorelines while at the same time creating habitats for numerous animals and plants. Salt water, scorching sun, shifting tides: the mangrove has adapted perfectly to the tropical conditions in Asia. Yet heat is an elementary requirement for the growth and survival of the mangrove, which is one of the rare species of trees that can survive in salt water.
Making up 40 percent of the global mangrove population, the mangrove forests along the coasts of Southeast Asia are among the most species-rich and productive ecosystems in the world. They are, however, under severe threat, having lost over 60 percent of their population in recent decades. The decline of the mangrove forests goes hand in hand with the destruction of habitats and breeding sites for a large number of sometimes endangered animal and plant species, this having serious impacts on biodiversity.
Locals sometimes use the trees as firewood or timber. In addition, large mangrove areas are cleared to make way for supposedly lucrative shrimp farms or are significantly damaged by fishermen to create space for larger nets. The mangrove population is also under threat from cattle herds, which trample down some of the young shoots.
The decline of mangrove populations is having devastating consequences: the protection afforded by the forests against tidal waves and tsunamis is gradually waning. In addition, the function of the trees as carbon sinks and "climate protectors" in the fight against global warming is being severely compromised. To grow their branches and leaves, mangroves need carbon dioxide, which they take in from the air. Their extensive crowns, dense root systems and rich soils store up to 1.5 metric tons of carbon per hectare per year. Yet mangroves do not just hold large amounts of CO₂in their mighty trunks, which straddle the interface between land and sea, they also transfer CO₂ to the seabed by natural leaf fall, with a large proportion of the carbon-containing waste being transported by the tides over long distances into deep water, where the CO₂ remains for hundreds of years, thus unable to exert any detrimental effect on the climate.
In an effort to conserve the mangrove forests of Asia, Global Nature Fund Germany, an international foundation for nature and the environment, has joined forces with five international project partners to set up an aid project. In collaboration with the local partner organizations, the purpose of the project is to restore and protect degenerated mangrove forests. Environmental and promotional measures are being implemented to intensively involve the local population in the project.
The mangrove forests are being restored according to a previously tried-and-tested system. Based on the principle of natural regeneration, the system offers a particular way of restoring the natural and unique composition of the forests.
Mangrove saplings are expertly grown at special tree nurseries. The young plants are taken from the immediate vicinity to guarantee that only indigenous species are planted. In addition, local families can grow their own saplings for the project in so-called “house gardens” and afterwards sell them as a source of income. They also receive support in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and herbs to meet their own needs or for sale on the market.
The project includes specially established environmental education centers with demonstration gardens at which school classes, interested locals and foreign visitors can learn more about the important role of the mangrove and the threats it faces as well as how it can be protected and used sustainably.
Daimler has long-standing links with the Global Nature Fund. Since as early as 1998, the automotive manufacturer has supported the foundation on various projects, such as the Living Lakes project in Africa. Daimler is contributing a total of €240,000 to the implementation of the project to restore and protect the mangrove forests of Southeast Asia and the urgently required measures.
Environmental protection and the responsible use of energy resources are firmly anchored among Daimler’s corporate objectives, with climate protection, air pollution control and resource conservation being key elements. Launched in 2014 in India, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, the mangrove project will run initially for three years.
As part of its responsibility toward society, Daimler has been supporting the Global Nature Fund since 1998. The project to recultivate and protect the mangrove forests in four South Asian countries was launched in 2014. Daimler is supporting the implementation of the urgent measures by providing a total of EUR 240,000 within the space of three years. The Global Nature Fund is working with five different regional organizations on the project.
The ambitious target is to reforest an area of about 150,000 square meters (equivalent to 22 soccer fields), involving around 30,000 seedlings and the natural regeneration of 6,000 m of coastline.
India, Pulicat Lake
Partnership with the Center for Research on New International Economic Order (CReNIEO).
Pulicat Lake is India's second-largest brackish water lagoon. The lake's fauna is unique. The lake is situated about 80 km from Chennai.
Of the area of 50,000 square meters planned for reforestation, 20,000 have already been planted. Reforestation efforts had to be suspended in the fall and winter of 2015 on account of heavy rainfall. There was a danger that the new plants would flood and therefore die. New seedlings have already been cultivated for the 2016 planting season. More than 480 additional seedlings of other tree species were planted in the region.
Environmental training initiatives aimed at highlighting the importance of and the protection offered by mangrove forests reached around 2,600 schoolchildren and almost 700 adults.
They learned about sustainable afforestation concepts, alternative sources of income, and water conservation in terms of the aspects of recycling and plastic.
In September 2015 there was a second workshop on the subject of "Breeding crabs as an alternative source of income". The workshop was attended by 14 women and 7 men.
Vegetable seedlings and other seeds for harvestable fruit were also distributed to 226 families within the villages covered by the project.
These measures should improve the livelihoods of at least ten families and provide environmental training for at least 1,500 people, in addition to reforesting an area of at least 50,000 square meters (7 soccer fields) with around 10,000 seedlings.
Cambodia, Preah Sihanouk Province
Partnership with the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT)
Sihanoukvillle Province is situated on the country's south coast.
In the last two years, almost 9,000 mangrove seeds have been collected and cultivated into seedlings at tree nurseries. Of these, 6,200 seedlings have already been planted on 40,000 hectares of space earmarked for reforestation. More than 435 volunteers were involved in the project, including local residents, schoolchildren and representatives of the government and media. At the same time, the "collectors" were made aware of the conservation and importance of the mangrove forests.
Training was also provided on the subject of "Ecological mangrove recultivation". The goal of the training was to show community representatives simple and cost-effective measures for protecting and reforesting mangroves using natural regeneration.
And at the end of March 2016 there was a three-day workshop on the subject of sustainable vegetable farming. The workshop showed how to cultivate a field without using chemicals, and farmers were also shown opportunities for better marketing. At the end of the workshop, ten families were provided with a basic pack of tools and vegetable seedlings.
Sri Lanka, Madampe Wetlands and Sri Lanka, Bolgoda Lake
Partnership with the Nagenahiru Foundation in the Madampe Wetlands and with the EMACE Foundation at Bolgoda Lake.
The Maduganga and Madampe lakes are situated on Sri Lanka's south-western coast with the Indian Ocean. They are twin lakes connected by a narrow channel that is 3 km long. They cover an area of 9.15 and 3.9 km² respectively, and are situated in one of Sri Lanka's most beatiful and picturesque landscapes.
Bolgoda Lake is situated in south-western Sri Lanka, 19 kilometers from Colombo. The lake itself consists of two large bodies of water and covers an area of 374 km², part of which is fresh water and part brackish. It is one of western Sri Lanka's largest fresh-water lakes. Its natural beauty offers significant potential for tourism and fishing in the area around Colombo, but faces a serious risk posed by industrial pollution.
Together the partners afforested around 40,000 square meters of land and 1.6 km of coastline by the end of May 2016. The areas were first weeded, and irrigation channels were created before the seedlings were planted.
Both partners are helping as part of various programs aimed at alternative ways of generating income such as farming various different kinds of vegetables, or the production of advertising materials by small crafting enterprises.
Schools were supported with Environment Day campaigns, and the Nagenahiru Foundation renovated the kitchen to ensure that groups of visitors are catered for. EMACE organized trips for journalists in order to raise awareness.
One major objective here is to offer at least 20 families improved livelihoods and provide improved environmental training and awareness to more than 2,500 people.
Thailand, Andaman Coast
Partnership with the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) Team.
Thailand's Andaman Coast is situated in the province of Trang.
The implementation of the project in Thailand is mainly focused on the village of Ta Sanook in Phang Nga Province. Local partners were already actively involved in afforestation projects.
Alternative sources of income were discussed with almost 60 participants in Ta Sanook, and a bee-keeping business was founded with at least 24 members. The new bee-keepers were given training in Nai Nang in March 2016. The Nai Nang community has been running a successful bee breeding program for some time, and also produces soap and shampoo in addition to honey. Fifty three future bee-keepers from the village of Ta Sanook attended the workshop. A second training event was scheduled for the fall of 2016 in order to ensure that the members can implement the bee breeding and honey products independently.
Around 1,500 schoolchildren took part in World Environment Day 2016, and received instruction on how to protect the mangroves. A 70m nature trail was also created with informational and instructional signs for the purposes of environmental training.
The aim is to create a better livelihood for at least 22 families in Thailand and raise awareness of the environment for at least 500 people.