Global interest in mangrove cultivation to counter climate change
Its trees absorb 5 times more carbon than forests
Saturday – 13 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1444 AH – 08 October 2022 AD
Mangroves protect beaches from erosion and store carbon (WWF)
Cairo: Hazem Badr
Can the problem be solved in this tree?! This was the phrase uttered with disdain by some of the local communities in the Red Sea Governorate; Egypt is implementing a project to plant mangrove forests on the coast, to face the effects of climate change, motivating those in charge of the project to hold awareness meetings, explaining the importance of this tree, which is a line of defense against ‘ a series of consequences of climate change.
The countries of the world – including Egypt – have lost large quantities of this important tree; Because the local communities either benefited from the wood of those trees or used them as pastures for their animals, such as camels, without paying attention to their environmental importance, which the Egyptian project tries to draw attention to, similar to what currently being now done in more than one country around the world.
Sayed Khalifa, a professor at the Desert Research Center in Egypt, the project manager and the Egyptian Agricultural Syndicate, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Our project started about five years ago, and we are trying to grow mangroves and show their value to local communities, so that those communities are more eager than we are to protect them.” .
This tree performs a very important ecological function, as it resists erosion factors that cause coastal strip erosion, and stores carbon at a rate that exceeds 5 times that of tropical forests, according to a study on the environmental importance of the tree in June last year highlighted. the “Weirs Clement Chang” journal.
The local communities do not know these benefits that can protect them from being swallowed by sea water, in addition to its usefulness in absorbing carbon, so they were aware of these benefits, in addition to implementing projects based on that tree to increase interest for local communities in it, which is the main focus of this The project, which was launched 5 years ago, at a cost of about $50,000 annually.
Khalifa says: “We have recently implemented a project for the breeding of honey bees, based on the flowers of the mangroves, after providing training courses for local communities. At the end of our project, we aim to own the bees that are in the area, to create a link between these communities and the mangroves.”
Although the duration of this project was only 5 years which ended this year, the sustainability achieved by the honey bee project based on mangrove blossoms made it one of the most prominent climate adaptation projects that Egypt has on the agenda of the COP 27- conference will present. he explained next.
The combination of environmental and economic goals to achieve the sustainability of mangroves is one of the most important recommendations of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The Fund implements a project similar to the Egyptian project in 4 countries: Mexico, Madagascar, Fiji and Colombia. The duration of this project is 5 years, and it aims to protect, restore and improve the management of 2.47 million hectares of mangroves, thus absorbing an estimated two billion tons of carbon, and protecting 300,000 people. They live near these coastal forests.
On its website, in a report published on January 4 this year, the Fund highlighted the importance of sustainable management of mangrove projects, turning them into a source of many livelihood opportunities for local communities, which can help to conserve these coastal ecosystems. the value.
Among the economic activities in which these trees can help: shellfish gathering, fishing and beekeeping; The environment of these trees is a shelter for fish and shellfish, while their flowers are useful for raising honeybees, the report explains.
The report also noted that mangroves generate indirect income for communities; These trees and their large root systems act as a protective shelter for vulnerable young marine life as they grow and mature, including baby sharks and grouper, and this life cycle supports both biodiversity and community livelihoods, through sustainable reef tourism, fishing Maritime.
In addition to these benefits, these trees provide protection to local communities from storms; The close growth of interwoven mangrove roots and branches interrupts rising waters and large waves, thereby protecting people, homes and business infrastructure from powerful storm surges, a feature that will only become more important as extreme weather events continue to be exacerbated by climate.
This last benefit referred to in the report was a report by the International World Vision Organization concerned with environmental and climate issues, which was referred to in a report published on July 25 last year on its official website.
In addition to the Egyptian project to create an economic benefit from trees, and the projects referred to by the World Wide Fund for Nature, there is another project in Kenya, which is focused on in the World Vision International report, and relies on on the sale of “carbon credits”.
In the project, local people grow mangroves and sell the “carbon credits” collected by the trees to finance sustainable development in the area.
Due to the mangrove’s ability to absorb carbon, its forests are known as “carbon sinks”, or “carbon-rich biomes”, and by storing excess carbon, it helps to reduce global warming, and on the other hand, the “carbon credits” their store can be sold.
“Carbon credits” are financial incentives offered for every ton of carbon dioxide that is no longer emitted into the atmosphere, thanks to the reduction of gases during production, or the introduction of new solutions, including nature-based solutions, such as mangroves.
For his part, Khaled Kabil, professor of plants at Minya University (south of Cairo), praises the trend of linking mangrove projects and creating an economic benefit from these trees for local communities.
“Efforts to grow mangroves will be futile unless the local communities themselves protect them,” Kabil told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He points to an Egyptian study in 2018, which revealed that the extent of the damage to mangrove forests “may well exceed what can be replaced by any replanting program for years to come”; On the other hand, he expresses his hope that the COP27 climate summit will result in funding that will allow the expansion of these projects.