By Murtland Haley
The Mangrove Restoration and Management Department which started out in 2010 as the Mangrove Restoration Project has planted over 500,000 seedlings across the length and breadth of Guyana’s coastline.
The project stage of the initiative lasted until 2013, after which the department was established under the National Agricultural Research Extension Institute (NAREI). According to Head of Department (MRMD) Kene Moseley, planting of seedlings has been done in regions two, four, five and six.
Interviewed by Kaieteur News, Moseley said that no work has been done in region one primarily because that area has the largest standing mangrove forest. Work has been stymied in region three since that coast is currently experiencing part of the erosion cycle.
“So if you visit that area, the residents will tell you that they are starting to see some of the mangroves go away. That is a natural process that happens on our coastline, there is a period of accretion, you have a lot of sediments coming and then there is a period of erosion that takes away the sediment and takes away some of the trees.”
Based on this, Moseley said that the wider the forest coverage, the less effect erosion would have on the area and greater chance the forest will regenerate during the accretion cycle.
To be able to plant 500,000 seedlings over the last six years the Department utilised its Community Management. Residents in communities are contracted and paid to grow the seedlings and to also participate in placing the plants at particular sites.
Planting is also facilitated by the efforts of interested volunteer groups. She said that the Department works with the groups to assist in site clean-up.
“The issue in terms of the conflict in using the foreshore is not just grazing and so forth. Guyanese have this habit of garbage disposal; it comes from both ends at the seawall. It comes from persons in the community dumping garbage out there and it comes from tidal flow after persons would have dumped in the water ways.”
She said that this issue hampers some of the work her Department tries to do. According to Moseley, cleaning up is not easy, “as fast as you clean an area and work with residents, not all of them have that appreciation as to why you are doing this so you find in a short space of time you are back to the same situation.”
In terms of combating the negative effects of animals being grazed on the foreshore on seedlings, a lot of work is done with communities to see how alternatives can be found to accommodate the animals.
She said that it is not feasible to do all this work and then have persons grazing animals. According to her, grazing and garbage disposal are the major challenges in terms of human activity.
Moseley said that persons need to start viewing mangroves as “more than just bush blocking their view”, but appreciate the important benefits which the forests offer in terms of protecting the coastline.
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