Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Huge mangrove restoration fizzles

ScienceNow: One of the world's most intensive efforts to restore coastal mangrove forests is failing--in large part because people are planting the trees in the wrong places. Ironically, the restoration effort may also be harming other coastal habitats in the Philippines, according to a new study.

…Many of those trees were doomed to die quick deaths, according to biologists Maricar Samson and Rene Rollon of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. In the current issue of Ambio, the researchers report that surveys of more than 70 restoration sites often found mostly dead, dying, or "dismally stunted" trees. The major problem, they say, is that planters didn't understand the mangrove's biological needs and placed seedlings in mudflats, sandflats, or sea-grass meadows that can't support the trees. Some of these areas have inadequate nutrients; in other places, strong winds and currents batter the seedlings. What's worse, the failed plantings sometimes pack a double ecological whammy, as restoration activities disturbed or damaged otherwise healthy habitats.

To get mangrove restoration back on track, Samson and Rollon say planters need better guidance on where to place the seedlings….

River bank on the island of Palawan, the Philippines. Shot by Torox, who has generously released it into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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