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.
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.
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.
I know MAP since I learned Mangrove Restoration Techniques since 2005. MAP has been doing great non profit work with available facilities and with great number of volunteers. The techniques that I learn from MAP, has established successful mangrove restoration in my region. Mangrove Action Project is also organizing and technically supporting several small non profit organizations across the world. I have visited their field sites, villages and office in Thailand that showed how they are strongly connected with their commitments, community and mangroves. I respect their effort of making great differences in mangrove conservation and restoration especially in the remote parts of developing countries. MAP's key strength is volunteers and networking with great enthusiasm and generous communication support. MAP has been making platform for several mangrove conservationists and coastal managers through Ecological Mangrove Restoration Group. My best wishes for their more achievements to restore the degraded mangroves and associated livelihoods.