Myanmar is ranked globally by studies, as the second most vulnerable country in the world to extreme weather events over the last 20 years (World Risk Index). Climate change could have serious catastrophic impacts in Myanmar and restoration of mangrove forests and other coastal systems is emerging as a solution – serving both as a carbon sink as well as offering coastal protection and food security. The country has a long coastline exceeding 2,832 km and some 785,000 ha of existing mangrove cover. Mangrove forests comprise 4% of Myanmar’s tree stock, are being destroying at an alarming rate. The proposed Project area in the Yangon coastal zone contains one of the richest terrestrial mangrove ecosystems existing in the country.
These low-lying coastal zones are directly exposed to natural disasters due to climate variability and change effect, have been heavily degraded, and are in very real danger of succumbing to complete deforestation from development pressures. Sea level rise, flooding, storm surge and cyclones among other natural disasters in conjunction with anthropogenic induced problems (e.g clearance of forest for agricultural and shrimp farming) pose serious threats to coastal communities and natural ecosystem resilience. Yet these project areas provide homes to diverse flora and fauna, and contain large area of rich alluvium soil.
The primary purpose of this project is thus to implement a robust and sustained conservation and reforestation effort for 2200 hectares of mangrove lands utilizing the results of the research conducted since 2012 in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park.
Mangrove forests comprise 4% of Myanmar’s tree stock, are being destroying at an alarming rate, and no systematic planting or restoration efforts are underway to will ensure their preservation and expansion. These low-lying coastal zones are directly exposed to natural disasters due to climate variability and change effect, have been heavily degraded, and are in real danger of succumbing to complete deforestation from development pressures. Sea level rise, flooding, storm surge and cyclones among other natural disasters in conjunction with anthropogenic induced problems (e.g clearance of forest for agricultural and shrimp farming) pose serious threats to coastal communities and natural ecosystem resilience. Yet these project areas provide homes to diverse flora and fauna, and contain large area of rich alluvium soil.
Mangroves provide essential climate change mitigation due to extremely high rates of carbon sequestration. Worldwide, mangroves are estimated to store over 4.2 billion metric tons of carbon (Hamilton and Friess 2012). Mangroves sequester most of this carbon (70%) directly into coastal soils, while the remainder is entrained within their living vegetation. Mangroves store on average 1,023 kg carbon per ha (Donato et. al, 2011), with local ranges assessed by Pathein and Yangon University reaching as high as 3,200 kg/ha. Local conditions have a strong influence on verifiable soil carbon values. Mangroves have thus been identified as a leading and highly cost-effective tool for fighting global climate change by an overwhelming majority of relevant international environmental and development agencies.
The planting protocols implemented in the project regions follow directly from best-practices developed by WIF. Based on verified survival rates of 80% , WIF’s completed reforestation areas and current project zones in Magyi, Thaegone, and Thabawkanhave been validated as sequestering some 3.68 million tons of CO2e over a 20-year period.
Mangroves provide an array of valuable ecosystem services that directly support the sustainable development, resilience, and adaptive capacity of the local communities. These include provisioning(timber, non-timber forest products, fuel wood), regulating(flood, storm and erosion control, prevention of salt water intrusion, habitat (breeding, spawning and nursery habitat for commercial fish species, biodiversity) and cultural services (recreation, aesthetic, non-use).
Mangrove forests are coastal plant communities that are part of a larger coastal ecosystem that typically includes mud flats, seagrass meadows, tidal marshes, salt barrens and even coastal upland forests and freshwater wetlands (i.e. peatlands), freshwater streams and rivers.
Under the project, soil conditions will be checked, nutrition will be retained on the land and therefore water quality will be increased compared with the current status. The soil organic contents and mineral contents will be improved due to proper land management. Vegetation cover is expected to improve soil conditions. Mangrove restoration will further increase fish resources, protecting lives and properties from extreme weather, provide cooling effect from mangrove trees and provide other vital ecosystem services. Protecting endangered flora and fauna is another environmental benefit of the project.
The project will involve low income families in the area who will get more opportunities to increase their income and thus be less prone to pursue unsustainable practices that might increase CO2emissions, harm the environment and further reduce the mangroves.
The project will create direct employment at agreed wages of the local communities involved in the project and provide all the training necessary. The project will promote a working family model where both men and women can actively participate in the project. Emphasis to be made on women projects, as well as expansion of scholarships for university studies to girls from poor families.
Improvements to the infrastructure in the area will be carried out to provide economic accessibility of the project area but also to facilitate farmers’ access and strengthen the competitiveness of the farmers when it comes to taking their food crops to the market.
Labour requirement for the project will be fulfilled with local employment. Therefore the major portion of the budget on labour will be retained within the country and the local community. The project will pay its workers above normal wages with additional support in solving problems such as supporting construction of community flood walls, securing fresh water supplies in the dry season, repairing broken floors and roofs of school buildings, distributing solar lamps to families with school children, distribution of school bags and raincoats etc. in addition to create new livelihoods. 25% of the total project budget is for public education, social mobilisation, livelihood creation, micro loans, cottage industries, aquaculture, scholarships, distribution of solar lamps, and subsidy for fuel saving stoves, women projects and scholarships. More permanent job opportunities, followed by new projects will be finalized after consultation with community leaders and local entrepreneurs.