I have been involved with the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) since it was founded over two decades ago. Although MAP is a small organization with limited funding, MAP has certainly had a considerable impact on the issues that it has engaged with. If it had more funding, it would have been able to do much more. It never wastes money, and its director has proven to be very ethical. He pays himself very little, and he never puts himself first. MAP has had much more influence than its funding would indicate. Money donated to MAP is certainly money well spent. Nothing is wasted. In addition, MAP has concentrated on pushing the right causes. It has not only been on the side of environmental protection. It has also been on the side of local people living in mangrove areas, and this is crucial. It is on the side of the disadvantaged small-scale fishers. It is a friend of small organizations on the ground around the world. It has always fought for equality and fairness. The only problem has been its limited financial resources. It hasn't sold out, and MAP definitely deserves out support.
MAP is a unique non-profit in its focus on human-environment interactions, a very geographical concept that embodies social justice issues in its environmental agenda. It has a global reach and is well-respected by the grassroots organizations with which it interacts. In addition to maintaining a world-wide network of mangrove non-profits through its newsletter, MAP produces a charming and lovely calendar every year of children's art related to mangroves. While it is engaged with climate change, MAP does not compromise its belief in ecological restoration rather than photogenic 'quick fixes' unfortunately too common. As such, it has been influential in promoting working with nature, not against it, in the international policy arena. It is still far too small an organization for the gargantuan task of keeping mangroves functional world-wide, but engages others, especially K-12, in the task through its enormously sought-after Education Curriculum.
Sharing ourexperiences on mangroves forest destruction with Mr. Afredo Quato in Trang province Thailand for over two decades. Later Mangrove Action Project was formed and growing recognized globally.
Map plays active roles in protecting mangrove forest, fighting against coastal fishers discrimination, as well as information dissemination to awake people to cooperate in saving mangroves and protect the rights of poor coastal fishers.
Mangrove Action Project has for the past ten years led international efforts to highlight the ecological importance of mangrove forests, and oppose threats to these forests. What is particularly important about MAP, compared to many US-based conservation organizations, is that they take a very strong community-oriented approach--they see the people who live with and use mangrove resources as part of the solution, not the problem. Although I don't know the details of how they interact with allied groups around the world, I sense that it is this community-oriented approach that has enabled them to take a vital leadership role in a network of global south organizations. Finally, where they might be most visible, especially for me given my work on certification in industrial agriculture, is the way they have stayed outside of these certification efforts to criticize and hold the organizations promoting these efforts to account. The work of MAP and its networks is in good part responsible for the way that the most recent certification efforts among industry and large environmental groups have included provisions in their standards for community consultation and input. In my world, MAP has been a leading and strong voice in defense of mangroves and mangrove-based communities for the past ten years, and certainly deserves this award.
My mangrove journey started with volunteering with MAP, and taking their training. It's gone through working for the Thai team as a paid consultant, friend of Jim and Ning's, and now an advisory board member. Their enthusiasm and professionalism has been a constant inspiration, helping me to stay in the Thailand when my own job was not working out. Encouraging me to take a PhD in mangrove conservation despite the challenges. MAP is a lean, passionate, dedicated NGO, which sticks to its knitting. Bravo, chaps.
Looking for a direction after too much time in advertising, Jim, MAP and the training session he ran in India in 2005 helped all the pieces drop into place. It literally changed my life. In less than a year I closed my business in the UK and moved to Thailand to work with Wetlands International, but in the same mangrove area as MAP. MAP is how small NGOs should be: passionate, very well informed, very well connected,sticks to its knitting, whippet-lean and efficient. It's the only NGO that tries to take the tens of thousands of scientific papers on mangroves and mangrove restoration and give this information, in an appropriate form, to local people and NGOs who need it.
I have been volunteering with MAP in Thailand at their Asia office for a little over a month now, and words can't describe the level of dedication and hard work I see every day. From mangrove restoration projects with large NGOs and local communities to community building along the west coast, the staff at MAP are committed to working at their highest capacity to do what works to conserve mangrove ecosystems. Their approach to restoration, working with nature, termed ecological mangrove restoration just makes sense. This approach takes into account the conditions of the site and provides a kick-start for the ecosystem to regenerate itself. When undertaking conservation work it is important to consider the local conditions and doing what works. The MAP staff know what works, and spend the time themselves undertaking these initiatives. I hope this review helps to bring attention to the great work being done in this organization.
Mangrove Action Project (MAP) has been working with coastal communities for a number of years. Through my association with them I have had the opportunity to work closely with an island community on local conservation issues in southern Thailand. The people at the MAP Asia office have been working very hard and are very productive. However, it remains a recurring question how that high level of performance can be maintained with limited resources, especially the limited support for salaries.
When I came back to the United States from Kenya in 1998, after working for several years as a project leader for the World Wildlife Fund on a marine conservation project there, the Mangrove Action Project was the single non-profit I found that was working at the grassroots level on issues of global mangrove conservation. They still are. They are an amazing resource - serving as a conduit between people, local people from all over the world and non-profit conservation personnel, and the wider public. The give voice, through their website and newletters, to issues and stories confronting mangrove forests and people that depend upon them that would never be carried by larger NGOs or the mainstream media. The head of MAP and his small group of core staff and volunteers work tirelessly to bring together information about new and immediate crises, ongoing challenges, and conservation success stories that concern the world's mangroves. They promote education, both locally and internationally, raising people's awareness about the fundamental services and vital products that mangrove forests provide, including the production of an annual international children's mangrove calendar, and a curriculum guide about mangroves for use by educators. They developed a toolkit for local users, people living in and around the world's mangroves, to help foster sustainable use of these vital resources. And consistently they bring together local users of managrove forests and other stakeholders in forums that promote dialogue and foster mutual understanding. I cannot imagine a more diligent group of people working to bring together local people to help solve their own natural resource challenges while also highlighting the impact of larger international pressures on the forest resources that collectively concern the international public, such as trawling, shrimp farming and coastal development. MAP has single-handedly done more, in my own opinion, to champion the need for global mangrove conservation than any of the huge international conservation NGOs and done so working out of a tiny office in Port Angeles, Washington with a handful of staff and volunteers. They deserve all the support they can get!
I have been working with friends from the Mangrove Action Project now for about 18 months. Their work addresses the real issues on the ground, and they are embedded and support their programs for the long-term. Mangrove restoration is a notoriously failing field - what impresses me about MAP is a real appreciation for science and ecological knowledge to make their work a success, while framed within a strong local community conservation view. This is truly novel and interdisciplinary, and differentiates MAP from most other mangrove restoration and community NGOs. For my own work, MAP have always been supportive and helpful beyond the call of duty. There is one particular thing I would like to highlight. In August 2011 MAP Thailand organized a novel and thought-provoking workshop, involving academics from Thailand, Australia and Singapore, local NGOs from Thailand and the region, international NGOs, local and regional government, and local villagers and fishermen. I have never participated in such a wide-ranging, holistic grouping. I have never had the opportunity to discuss mangrove conservation with such a varied group of stakeholders, and probably never will again, but MAP had the trust of everyone in that room to facilitate such a novel event - and coastal management can only be successful with such an approach. Several other collaborations have come from this, which I hope will further enhance mangrove restoration in the region. MAP is a great catalyst for coastal conservation - there are several aspects of MAP that should be serving as role models for other environmental NGOs in the region.
In 1996, I made all the field organizing and transportation arrangements and then co-led a two week mangrove replanting project to the coastal island of Muisne in Ecuador, sponsored by the Mangrove Action Project. Our group numbered 12 or 14 participants from the United States. We collaborated with a local NGO to replant mangrove 'propagules' in areas that had been ecologically destroyed by improperly maintained shrimp farms. We succeeded in replanting several hectares during our time there. In 1997 I participated in another mangrove replanting project in southern Thailand. Ever since then, I have been a constant supporter and donor to the Mangrove Project. I recommend this organization highly.