At the end of 2023, at the Hotel Preskil, then at Vieux Grand Port and Ferney, the NGO Reef Conservation will be bringing together lovers and defenders of mangroves and mangroves to share their studies and conservation actions. The idea is, with the help of international partners, to create a common platform for exchange to protect these threatened and precious ecosystems.
Reef Conservation is an NGO, often quoted in our columns, whose mission is to preserve ecosystems, especially coastal and marine ones, including mangroves. “The SOS Mangrove project is a long-term project that aims to promote the study of mangroves in Mauritius, raise public awareness in relation to this ecosystem, and promote its restoration. The project began in August 2020 following the grounding of the MV Wakashio, and is funded mainly by the MOL Mauritius International Fund for Natural Environment Recovery and Sustainability and the AfrAsia Foundation,” explains François Baguette, Project Director at Reef Conservation. The SOS Mangrove event brought together NGOs, representatives of the private sector (including Cap Business OI), the public sector, as well as academics and researchers.
Representatives of the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (IMSE), an international scientific organization based in Japan, were also present. François Baguette explains: “Our partnership with ISME began in October 2021 following our exchanges with Prof. Miyagi, an expert in the study of mangroves at international level. Prof. Miyagi was part of the first delegation of experts dispatched to Mauritius to assess the impacts of the oil spill on mangroves along the Southeast coast. As Reef Conservation is one of the organizations involved in monitoring the impacts of the oil spill in collaboration with the government, we have had the chance to exchange views with Prof. Miyagi and his ISME colleagues since then, and this has led to Reef Conservation’s registration as an ISME member”. ISME members as well as Prof Miyagi demonstrated their expertise used to study mangroves in Mauritius at the start of the November 8 conference. “ISME supports our research activities by providing expertise, logistics and equipment. They bring added value to our research into the structure of mangroves in Mauritius and their contribution to carbon sequestration, for example”, adds François Baguette.
“Continuing and expanding our mangrove research”.
The second day of the meeting saw a field trip to Vieux Grand-Port and Ferney to visit the mangrove forests that had been affected by the oil spill caused by the grounding of the MV Wakashio (pictured). For the time being, the nascent platform has no name or status, but it is to be hoped that this is the beginning of a regrouping of mangrove defenders.
At Reef Conservation, the SOS Mangrove project is continuing: “We plan to continue and expand our research on mangroves, for example, by studying mangrove productivity, carbon sequestration in the soil, and the diversity of organisms living in mangroves, mainly crabs and fish”, concludes François Baguette. This type of study is proving decisive for the future of mangroves in Mauritius. For one thing, the oil spill highlighted the scarcity of scientific information on the state of Mauritian mangroves. The results of these studies will be used to support the preservation, restoration and planting of mangroves.