Supporting Mangrove Conservation through benefiting poor people
The negative impact of water hyacinth and napa palm has long-been recognised as a serious challenge to freshwater and brackish ecosystem functioning. In the Niger Delta specifically, the invasive plants impact on fishing stocks (and the logistics of fishing), transportation and mangrove forests. Through discussions undertaken as part of the Partnership Award, the local people confirmed that the greatest challenge to their livelihoods is the ongoing and expanding threat of water hyacinth to their fisheries and are therefore keen to play a part in removing the plants. That said, they also acknowledged that – due to the ease of cutting aerial roots – mangrove wood is the principal source of firewood for domestic cooking. The need for firewood for cooking and the accessibility of the mangrove forest means that there is severe deforestation of the mangrove trees, which impacts not only locally (unsustainable use of natural resource) but globally (removal of a major carbon sink)
The project is shaped to address these two main challenges: the need to provide sustainable, alternative to mangrove firewood source for households, and the impact of invasive plants on ecosystem services. By incentivising the harvesting of invasive plant material, and transforming this into cheap, local power (off-grid electricity and a fuel briquette compounder owned by a social enterprise), both of the challenges will be addressed at least in part, if not fully in the project area. One of the main outputs of the project will be to disseminate the findings, such that a successful process can be replicated elsewhere in the Niger Delta.
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