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The Mangroves are at Risk. We (Youth) can be the Answer

Mangrove ecosystems are full of biodiversity.

by Prudence Ndabasanze

Mangrove ecosystems are full of biodiversity.

Much of the wildlife that shelters among the branches and roots of the mangroves is endemic to Madagascar, including the critically threatened Madagascar fish-eagle and the Madagascar heron. Mangrove forests cover much of the western coast of Madagascar, including, Kivalo, the small fishing village where I am stayed while volunteering with WWF. The mangroves play an important role in the lives of the people who live here.

However, the forest is in danger. In Kivalo and elsewhere in Madagascar, trees are the number one source of fuel for cooking and warmth and also main source of building material. Mangroves are being cut to build houses and cook food at a rate faster than new trees can grow.

Woodburning cooking stove
© WWF Madagascar / Prudence Ndabasanze

Climate change, overfishing and rising levels of salinity are also damaging vulnerable mangrove ecosystems, which are extremely sensitive to change. These threats, and others, pose a great risk and much should be done to conserve these forests.

The conservation of biodiversity involves the dedication of many individuals. The most crucial step is protecting the current status of biological diversity in a community. The second step is fixing the damage that has already been done and the third step is taking steps to protect the whole ecosystem for the future. Conservation is a long and costly process in which young people should play a significant role. We have energy and a vested interest in the future.

During my placement in Kivalo, I have realized that we, the world’s youth, have a key role to play in ensuring a bright and biodiverse future. As WWF volunteers, one of our missions was to promote the restoration of mangroves in Kivalo. We worked with the vice-president of the village to conduct an ecological survey of the site to identify where the mangroves should be replanted. The actual planting took place in a single day. The entire community got involved and at the end of the day more than 6,000 mangrove seedlings had been planted within a two hectare area!

Planting in Kivalo
© WWF Madagascar / Prudence Ndabasanze

The future lies in our hands. We have to work hard and promote the conservation of biological diversity in our areas and all over the world. One way or another, biodiversity will determine our future on this changing earth!

Kids posing at the planting
© WWF Madagascar / Prudence Ndabasanze