Saving the mangroves on Tristao
Partner since 2019
in cooperation with Guinée Ecologie
The Tristao Islands are an isolated group of islands, located in northern Guinea. The mangroves that cover half of them make up a valuable ecosystem and are a key habitat for wildlife and fishery resources. The biodiversity is special and vulnerable. It’s a breeding area for several species of marine turtles and is home to over 200 identified bird species.
Mangrove forests protect the islands against coastal erosion and sea level rise but are also the only source of energy for the island population. Most of the 15,000 inhabitants live below the poverty line and use mangrove wood for cooking and lighting, as well as for income generating activities like fish smoking, which is the biggest economic activity. Furthermore, mangroves are cleared to make space for rice fields. Over the years and due to sea level rise, rice fields have been salinized and therefore abandoned. Farmers have started new ones further inland, clearing yet more mangrove forests.
To achieve the goal this program is working towards, a combination of strategies will be executed:
• Restoration of abandoned rice paddies: abandoned rice fields will be turned into mangroves again. The dikes surrounding the paddies will be partially broken down, thereby changing the hydrology and allowing the sea to enter again. As a result, new mangrove trees will grow, through natural regeneration.
• Replanting of mangroves: in consultation with local communities, suitable sites for replanting mangroves are selected. Based on detailed maps and soil studies a reforestation plan for these sites will be made.
• Reducing the pressure of cutting mangroves: by introducing more efficient improved stoves for fish smoking, the amount of wood used will be reduced by two thirds. Improved stoves for home cooking will be introduced as well, partly paid for by women groups.
• Realize good governance: eco-rangers will be trained and provided with the means for surveillance to protect this nature reserve.
Safeguarding and expanding the mangroves of the Tristao Islands so that they will have a broad vegetation cover, protect against the factors of degradation and are favourable to the maintenance of the biodiversity for the well-being of the populations.
• Rehabilitating and planting mangroves over a surface of 600 hectares;
• Reducing the pressure of human activities on mangroves by promoting alternative techniques for economic activities and supporting income-generating activities;
• Managing natural resources.
This program is based on a community approach – it is only possible to sustainably increase the area of mangroves if there is full participation of the local communities which in turn is only possible if their socio-economic situation improves. We spoke to Ahmed Senhoury, PRCM’s director, on the Tristao islands about the progress made in the program.