Growing on an area of more than half a million hectares, the mangrove forest cover in Myanmar is second largest in Asia, behind Indonesia. This mangrove forest provides food, shelter and livelihoods for millions of lowland and coastal inhabitants in Myanmar as well as other Southeast Asian countries.
In Myanmar, the diversity of mangroves is common in Rakhine, Ayeyarwady and Tanintharyi. These are the three coastal areas where people rely heavily on fisheries and farming to survive. Among them, the Tanintharyi region – one of the least disturbed mangroves in the country, with more than 50 species of mangroves and related species.
Tanintharyi is located in Pyinbugyi Island, where the MFF has undertaken three projects. Here, mangroves are often dense and diverse with abundant marine life. At present, due to population pressure – the number of households quadrupling in the past 60 years – mangrove forests have been over-exploited. Local communities use mangroves for their own construction and cooking needs, while illegal exploitation for commercial purposes is becoming more common. This over-exploitation resulted in 500 hectares of agricultural land on the island abandoned due to saltwater intrusion, which reduced agricultural productivity.
In support of farmers, MFF encourages the shift to aquaculture practices, but most farmers do not want to give up their traditional way of life. In view of this, MFF has chosen to build the capacity of the people by establishing village environmental conservation committees, providing VECC members with training on mangrove conservation and practices. Nursery.
As part of the project, mangroves were planted to re-create a natural coastal protected area. However, barnacles – a small species that grows in large numbers can overwhelm mangrove seedlings. This devastation, combined with strong waves, destroyed the newly planted mangroves. At the end of the planting season, a bamboo fence was installed to protect the remaining mangroves. Despite the efforts, the results were not as expected.
The MFF then called for support from U Win Maung, one of Burma’s most respected mangrove forest experts. His team then visited and undertook mangrove vegetation assessments; At the same time, find a practical solution to this problem.
U Win Maung’s mangrove specialists survey the entire island, analyze satellite data, and hold public discussions with local communities. Through their assessment, they realized that in some areas mangroves naturally developed without any artificial support. They therefore recommend restoring natural flow by removing dykes and embankments, which would increase the overall success rate for rehabilitating mangroves.
The MFF is currently implementing a small grant project on the island to establish a locally managed area and will visit the coastal reserve to further monitor the mangrove area.