The news in recent months were grim. Climate change is no longer a projection into some year well into the future. Wild fires, severe floods and the breaking up of Antarctic glacier have become a reality today. The Greenland Ice sheet is melting much faster than the most daring projections forecasted, contributing to sea level rise with potentially devastating impacts on coastal communities around the globe. Mangroves provide a natural buffer to protect coastal communities from the worst impact of storm surges and naturally grow and keep up with slowly rising sea levels. However, degraded mangroves and vast areas without any mangrove protection leave many coastal areas dangerously exposed to the increasingly hostile sea.
Unfortunately, mangroves are one of the fastest disappearing ecosystems on earth. Myanmar is one of those countries with the most rapid loss observed in the past 30 years. More than 50% of its mangroves have disappeared already and the remaining mangroves are further subjected to conversion, cutting and degradation, leaving vast coastal areas in Myanmar denuded and exposed to storm surges. The Manfred-Hermsen Foundation is working with local NGOs (Nature Conservation Society Myanmar, NCS) and the international NGO Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to protect the remaining mangroves. All NGOs are working closely with the government on solutions for local people and communities, who more and more understand the value and ecosystem services of this fragile boundary between land and sea. Interspersed by intertidal mudflats the last remaining mangroves in the Taninthary region are the main focus of conservation activities by the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation. It is an easy decision for the globally operating German foundation. ‘Protecting mangroves is projecting coastal communities, their livelihoods, but also its unique set of special and threatened biodiversity, as well as helping to capture carbon effectively and most rapidly’ says Dr. Christoph Zöckler, the Asian focal point for the organisation. This video provides a brief insight into the world of Myeik mangroves in Taninthary, Myanmar.
The Mekong Mangrove Forum, an initiative of FFI, Manfred-Hermsen Foundation and UNESCO offers a unique opportunity for coordinated conservation action and the third meeting will help to bring together all stakeholders and expertise to leaver the most effective support to safeguard the mangroves for the future. We are very glad that despite COVID-19 we are able to hold our third meeting in this way.