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International volunteer students dig-in at Nai Nang, restoration site
Posted on: May 9th, 2017
By David Matyas, MAP Volunteer Intern
To start of the month, on May first, the MAP team paid a visit to Nai Nang village where we met with the local community and the volunteers of Projects Abroad joined by the students of the Canadian International School from India and we joined together for some serious earth moving ecological improvements at one new restoration site, supported by Synchronicity Earth.
Nai Nang involvement in mangrove conservation
For the Nai Nang community, the mangrove is much more than just trees as provide livelihoods and food in the form of fish, shellfish, snails, shrimp and crabs. Meanwhile, it’s also a natural protection against coastal erosion and tropical storm caused disaster. In 2012, the community wisely decided to protect the mangrove forest near their village by establishing an 80 ha protected zone. In 2014, the plan turned to action as began to restore abandoned shrimp ponds using the CBEMR process introduced by MAP. Soon after they invited wild bees to stay in wooden boxes they built and set out near their houses. Realizing that the sweet honey production is a sustainable activity providing supplementary incomes and improves mangrove pollination they knew they had found a win-win enterprise. Today the Nai Nang community has around 400-500 beehives and they project to reach 600 in the next couples years.
Volunteer students at work improving the hydrology
Early in the morning, before the scorching tropical sun rose high above our heads and the heavy humidity make physical work impossible for us foreigners, volunteers from Projects Abroad and the students of the Canadian International School were digging and making mounts of muddy soils rise up from the flat bottoms of two shrimp ponds to restore the hydrology of the two sites. We soon learned that mangrove restoration requires teamwork and is much more than just about planting seedlings or propagules.
Why change the topography?
Both sites were too low compared to normal soil elevation of the natural mangrove zone so at high tide, the water level is too high andinundation is too long even for the colonizing mangrove species to survive. Mangrove just like all other plants does need to breath, which is impossible underwater. Moreover, the current was too strong during the tidal flooding and receding making it hard for the seedling to anchor and root.
Mr Sutee Pankwan answering question of volunteers about apiculture in Nai Nang
Honey of the sea forest
In the afternoon, Mr. Sutee Pankwan, as the head of Nai Nang apiculture group, explained to all of us why the mangrove is so important for his village. He described the process of making honey and how the community set empty beehives in the mangrove, hoping for wild queen eventually settle with the whole colony following and become busy bees producing golden honey. At the end of the season, they bring back the beehives to the forest near their home where they work to extract the honey. The volunteers watched how they took the honey from the beehive and they had the opportunity to taste the freshest, sweetest honey in their lives.
The reward for their hard work: Volunteers tasting the golden honey.
Key message …
It was a good day to observe the first field work needed to restore mangrove forests. Not all shrimp ponds are restorable and it’s important to understand why mangrove don’t grow on the site. To improve hydrology is often the first important work to restore mangroves.