October 7, 2012
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!
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