Coastal mangroves are among the most threatened ecosystems on earth. Current estimates indicate that up to 67 per cent of mangroves have been lost to date, and nearly all unprotected mangroves could perish over the next 100 years.
On this day of International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystems, we would like to remind our people about what the environmentalists are telling us — that Myanmar’s mangrove resources are declining because of the proliferation of fish farms and because the mangrove trees are being used as firewood.
The primary threats to all mangrove species are habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas for conversion to aquaculture, agriculture, urban and coastal development, and overexploitation. Of these, clear-felling, aquaculture and over-exploitation of fisheries in mangroves are expected to be the greatest threats to mangrove species over the next 10 to 15 years.
On this day, we should be aware that the development work being carried out in coastal areas should be in conformity with the rules drawn for conservation of the coastal areas.
Environmental impact assessments on our coastal areas, which stretch up to 2,832 kilometers, abound with important natural ecosystems in the environs of the Indian Ocean. It is important to draw up plans based on the findings of these assessments.
There are over 500,000 hectares of mangroves along the coast of Myanmar.
According to the 2014 census, half of the population of Myanmar live in coastal areas and are dependent on the coastal ecosystems which serve them in many ways through marine products and environmental services.
The lack of systematic management of coastal ecosystems can lead to deterioration of the ecosystems due to extra extraction of the natural resources and will result in decreasing marine products and environmental services.
Hence, local authorities and local people in the coastal areas are urged to cooperate with each other in carrying out environmental conservation to prevent damage to the ecosystems, which include mangrove forests, coral reefs and marine grasses.
Now is the time to fight back, to protect and preserve our mangrove forests, which have suffered from human activities and the ravages of extreme weather patterns.
One method is mangrove replanting to mitigate the effects of climate change. This stabilises the coastline soil and nurtures a variety of sea life.
It is time that we preserve our mangrove forests.
We have to learn how to protect mangroves and use them in sustainable ways.
When we build infrastructure for sustainable development in coastal areas, we should go through negotiations on behalf of our valuable mangrove forests.