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Sharing South-South Experience on Restoration and Management of Mangrove Ecosystem

View of restored mangrove forest from the same watchtower

Mangroves are lifeline of the coast. Mangrove forests can store more carbon than most other types of habitats on the planet. The monetary value of goods and services received from mangroves is not less than US $ 186 annually (WWF). However, degradation of mangrove forest and the resulting impacts are major concerns for the countries in the tropic. 

Bangladesh supports the world’s largest single tract of mangrove forest. The total coverage of mangrove forest is 4.07% of the country’s land area. Bangladesh has years of experience of mangrove restoration. The area of planted mangrove in the country is more than 190,000 ha. The country has also been successful in applying community based conservation and management of mangrove forests.

Considering Bangladesh’s success in mangrove conservation an experience sharing visit was organized for a 12-member delegation from Timor Leste as part of South-South cooperation. The main objective of the visit was to learn and share experiences of community based management of mangrove ecosystem. The visit took place from 30th October to 4th November 2016. The delegation included officials of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Government of East Timor, and UNDP East Timor.

Despite more than half of the land mass (i.e., 58%) of Timor Leste has forest coverage, forest management is a major development concern for the country. The annual rate of deforestation is 1.7%. Increasing population, illegal cutting, forest fire, land use change, shifting cultivation and lack of law enforcement are some of the major threat to the forests land in the country. Like other types of forests the mangroves in Timor Leste have also suffered heavy decline, especially from 1940s. Currently there are only 3,976 ha. of mangrove forests in the country. Therefore, mangrove conservation got significant recognition by the government of Timor Leste.

Delegation from Timor Leste visits Sonadia Island

The delegation spent three days in Cox’s Bazar and Sonadia Island to visit mangrove restoration and protection sites of Bangladesh Forest Department, and ‘The Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity Management (CWBM) Project’ and ‘The Community Based Adaptation in the ECAs through Biodiversity Conservation and Social Protection (CBA-ECA) Project’ of the Department of Environment. These projects were supported by UNDP, Global Environment Facility, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund.  The visited mangrove restoration sites were once illegal shrimp farms of some influential people. The visiting team was highly impressed to know that the shrimp farms are again replaced by rich mangrove. They had the opportunity to interact directly with local community members and other stakeholders to learn different aspects of community based conservation and management of mangrove in the South Eastern part of Bangladesh. In turn they also shared experiences of mangrove conservation in East Timor. The team also visited a tropical hilly forest conservation site managed under the Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project (CRPARP) of Bangladesh Forest Department. In addition to observing coastal forest management, the team has also got the opportunity of learning about alternative livelihood activities which are aimed at reducing dependency of local communities on forest resources in the region. Observing the successful initiative on mangrove conservation Mr. Mário Ribeiro Nunes, Director General of Forestry, Coffee and Industrial Plants of the East Timor Government said, “Bangladesh has set successful examples of community based conservation of mangrove ecosystems which offer some useful learning that can be applied in Timor Leste”.

The field visit followed by an experience sharing workshop on mangrove conservation jointly organized by UNDP Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Forest Department on 3rd November 2016.  Chief Guest of the workshop Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests said “Bangladesh is pioneer in mangrove conservation and therefore, the decision of visiting Bangladesh by the East Timor delegation is very timely and much appropriated”. The workshop was also addressed by Mr. Yunus Ali, Chief Conservator of Forests of Bangladesh Forest Department, Mr. Nick Beresford, Deputy Country Director of UNDP Bangladesh, Mr. Mário Ribeiro Nunes, Director General of Forestry, Coffee and Industrial Plants of the Timor Leste, Mr. Ishtiak Uddin Ahmed, Country Director of IUCN Bangladesh and some other officials of Bangladesh Forest Department and Arannayk Foundation. The workshop ended with a good interaction among the delegation from the Timor leste.

Being developing nations the countries of Southern globe share many common grounds in terms of development. Therefore, effective cooperation among the southern countries may contribute to maximize their development achievements. The experience sharing visit presents a successful example of South-South cooperation.

Blog post Projects Asia & the Pacific Bangladesh Climate change and disaster risk reduction UNDP