T. V. Padma
South Asia regional coordinator, SciDev.Net
I trawled to mangroves Friday evening that saw the launch of a policy brief on ‘securing the future of mangroves,’ by the United Nations University – Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).
As I mentioned in a previous brief, mangroves are a unique ecosystem, covering only 150,000 square kms or less than 1% of all tropical forests worldwide, and are disappearing fast. They are disappearing three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, and some countries have lost 40% of their mangroves over 25 years.
The new policy brief, which follows the launch of the World Atlas of Mangrove atlas in 2010, recommends a slew of measures to improve mangrove management, from increasing conservation and restoration efforts as part of ‘natural coastal infrastructure, to economic incentives and promoting payment for ecosystem services as a source of income for mangrove management; to coordinated international policy agenda.
It also highlights that management interventions will be successful if they are backed up sound data and a broader knowledge and understanding for the need for the interventions.
Towards this, one of the measures suggested is support for new research and maintenance of long-term data sets on the extent of mangrove resources, their value, and responses to a range of pressures to inform sound policy and management decisions.
Despite an increasing trend in data and knowledge, many countries still have inadequate information on the extent and status of their mangrove resources, which “hampers robust policy making”, planning and resource management, it says.
The brief suggests that the formation of the Inter-Governmental Scientific Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) would be an important step to bridging science and policy, much like the climate change IPCCC has done for climate change.
The document also highlights the role of mangroves in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, which should be integrated in local and national adaptation plans. It suggests coordinating mangrove restoration with climate change mechanisms – for example, supporting implementation of mangrove projects for carbon emission reductions under REDD+; and encouraging the use of clean development mechanism (CDM) to support mangrove restoration.
I only hope the already beleaguered mangroves do not get caught in the kind of wrangles that plague climate change agenda.
This blog post is part of our coverage on COP 11 Convention on Biological Diversity — which takes place 8–19 October 2012.