When we updated you on our mangrove replanting effort in Belize last March, we had just finished planting over 100 mangrove seedlings in several high priority areas of San Pedro. We have been monitoring the sites since then and are pleased to report that at one of the sites, 39 encasements were set up and 39 now have healthy and growing mangroves; that's a 100% success rate during one of the more challenging times in development. One of the other sites had 17 encasements set up, but due to "fill" (dirt piled up by the property owners to block waves), 2 of the mangroves have been damaged. We are currently working to fix this issue.
We know that it could be years before we know the ultimate success of this endeavor, but we are grateful for your support that has given us the resources to even get this far. Thank you!
Mangroves are extremely beneficial to coral reefs. Not only do mangroves act as a natural purifier to prevent harmful pollutants from reaching reefs, but their root systems also provide a breeding ground and nursery for many reef species. Unfortunately for both mangroves and reefs, the high demand for beachfront property in Belize has led to an alarming rate of mangrove destruction. Coastal developers have traditionally favored clearing mangroves and constructing seawalls to prevent erosion, even though mangroves do a better job of minimizing erosion, while providing important coastal habitat.
It's with that background that the Coral Reef Alliance launched a mangrove replenishing effort in San Pedro. With our local partners, as well as renowned mangrove expert Bob Riley, we hosted a workshop on how to effectively restore mangrove habitat and enlisted volunteers to plant nearly 100 seedlings in three high-priority locations along the coast. The attached link takes you to our YouTube page where you'll find a great video with more detail on the project.
While it will take a few years for the seedlings to develop root systems, the ultimate return on investment will be worth the wait. "We are confident that these sites will serve as models to educate coastal developers on the importance of maintaining mangrove habitat," says CORAL's Belize Field Rep. Val Rosado. "Development is essential to our local economy, but it must be done in a responsible way."
Thanks for your support of this exciting project!
Happy 2011, globalgiving supporters!
I'm pleased to share the link to our latest and greatest issue of CORAL Current, our quarterly newsletter -- http://www.coral.org/files/pdf/newsletters/2011WinterNewsletter.pdf. All of us at CORAL hope'll check it out and enjoy reading updates on all of our coral reef conservation initiatives -- projects that you are helping to fund through your generous donations.
Sarah FreiermuthDevelopment Director
Friends of the Ocean,
Thank you so much for your interest in the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) and our coral conservation efforts around the world!
Since this is our first project report, in addition to sharing updates on the specific projects GlobalGiving.org donors are supporting, we’d like to offer you a bit of background on our organization. Originally founded in 1994 to galvanize the dive community for conservation, CORAL has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international nonprofit organization that works exclusively to unite communities to protect our planet's coral reefs. We provide tools, education, and inspiration to residents of coral reef destinations to support local projects that benefit both reefs and people. And while our focus is very narrow, we utilize a variety of tools (some of which are GlobalGiving.org funding opportunities) to accomplish our mission.
CORAL has assisted the Misool Eco Resort (MER), our principle partner in the region, with the development of community patrol guidelines for the Misool locally-managed marine area (LMMA). With our partners, CORAL has trained and initiated community-based patrols. As the local populations are so far removed from the protected area, these patrols are essential to ensure that the no-take LMMA rules are being respected. Rangers patrol remote areas of the LMMA for poaching and hold the authority to impose legal sanctions when necessary. Since April 2010, CORAL has sponsored 27 patrols, which resulted in recording seven violations, five of which were only first-time violations. During the last several months, CORAL and MER staff have been working on land-based evaluation of patrols due to the weather conditions.
Our mangrove replanting project is moving full steam ahead! Two sites in San Pedro have been selected for this pilot program. The encasements for the mangrove seedlings were recently ordered and will be to Belize in the next couple of weeks. The seedlings will be planted in these encasements to give them stability and protection as they grow. A workshop has also been scheduled for December to teach volunteers how to install the encasements, plant the seedlings, and monitor the project’s success.
CORAL volunteers—CORAL Reef Leadership Network (CRLN) graduates—are reaching important community members with training in Sustainable Marine Recreation (SMR). Over the last six months, CORAL has run eight SMR courses, training over 100 tourism professionals and stakeholders in improving environmental behaviors. Since 2008, when the program began, more than 670 participants have participated in 40 courses. These tourism professionals will continue to spread important conservation messages to the thousands of tourists they interact with each month.
We look forward to sharing more updates with you soon!
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Asst. Director of Development