Exposure visit on mangrove ecosystem restoration from Timor-Leste delegation

Nov 4, 2016

View of restored mangrove forest from the same watchtower

With the facilitation of UNDP Bangladesh, a delegation composed of 12 representatives from UNDP-Timor Leste and the Ministry of Agriculture of Timor Leste paid an exposure visit to Dhaka and Sonadia Island in the beginning of November.

Delegation from East Timor on a watchtower built by Coastal Wetland Biodiversity Management Project

The Delegation was provided with the opportunity to interact and exchange information with a number of Bangladeshi stakeholders and actors working on mangrove ecosystem restoration, who are actively involved both in implementation and policy-making.

On 31 October, the team visited 120 hectares of restored mangroves at Nunia Chara, Cox’s Bazar. The area was reclaimed in 2007 and brought under restoration by adopting community based conservation approach under ‘Coastal Wetland Biodiversity Management Project’ (CWBMP). This mangrove is now at young stage and the original mangrove is completely restored.

Delegation from Timor Leste visits Sonadia Island

The next day, speedboats took the delegation to Sonadia Island, which is a barrier island located to the north-west of Cox’s Bazar. Nearly 600 ha mangrove areas in Majher Dar, Sonadia Island were brought under mangrove plantation by the Forest Department and Department of Environment with support from UNDP’s Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity Management (CWBM) project implemented between 2003 to 2011, and Community Based Adaptation in the ECAs through Biodiversity Conservation and Social Protection Project (CBA-ECA) implemented between 2011 to 2015. The team had the opportunity meet with the Village Conservation Group and observe their alternate livelihood activities.

Delegation meets Village Conservation Groups

These two projects were successful in bringing a wide range of stakeholders together, including law enforcement agencies, to evict illegal shrimp farms owned by local influentials to reclaim a big area in Majher Dar and Nunia Chara for mangrove plantation. Later both CWBMP and CBA-ECA Project ensured protection of the plantation site by involving local community. The main concept of co-management is that if the resource users are benefitted from any kind of natural resources they will themselves protect the resources for their own interest/benefits. They will themselves be the protectors rather than destructors. The remarkable achievement of this approach is that the destructors of the forests have now become protectors.

The areas visited are now habitat for significant migratory bird species including the critically endangered Spoon-Billed Sandpiper and the vulnerable Olive Ridley sea turtles. The delegation of Timor Leste is impressed with the success of this mangrove restoration by involving local community and they will adopt the similar mangrove restoration model in their country. 

The trip culminated in an experience sharing workshop jointly organized by UNDP Bangladesh and Bangladesh Forest Department on community based conservation of mangrove ecosystems on 3 November 2016. Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Chief Guest said “Bangladesh is a pioneer in mangrove restoration and co-management of natural resources.” Special guest Mr. Mário Ribeiro Nunes, Director General–Forestry, Coffee and Industrial Plants said, “Timor Leste can learn community based innovative adaptation options and mangrove restoration from Bangladesh and replicate innovative models that have already been tested in our ecosystem.” Mr. Yunus Ali, Chief Conservator of Forest and Mr. Nick Beresford, UNDP’s Deputy Country Director also spoke at the event. Bangladesh Forest Department delivered keynote presentation on conservation and management of mangrove forests in Bangladesh.

This was an instance of successful South-South cooperation between two countries in the areas of community-led ecosystem based adaptation. The possibility to share lessons and technical know-how further is exciting for the UNDP and government counterparts of both countries. 

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