Fruit of the Seas: Up from the Mud
When our partner Eden Reforestation Projects began their work, the mangrove forests in the Mahajanga region of western Madagascar were severely degraded. The lack of a healthy coastal ecosystem caused ocean life in the area to disappear and shorelines to erode; local populations suffered as a result. Through Eden’s reforestation efforts, supported in part by ForestPlanet, the mangrove forests in Mahajanga are returning. Today, marine life is thriving, local populations are benefitting, and the Earth’s atmosphere is benefiting from the tons of carbon that the trees regularly sequester.
The magical mangrove trees capture carbon and deposit it into the soil. “Blue carbon” and nutrients quickly result. In short order, these nutrients stimulate an upward cycle of marine life, creating nutritious food for the next levels of the food chain. Root systems also offer protection for multiple species, including shellfish and healthy shrimp, and they thrive in the safe havens that a healthy ecosystem provides.
Mangroves are a rare species of tree that exist on the shorelines, at the cusp of salty seas and freshwater marshes or streams. The root systems spread tall and wide and typically become submerged at high tide. When the tide recedes, however, many life forms are revealed.
Local populations can sustainably harvest this bounty, providing the community with a nutritious food source. Some of the bounty is sold at market, rendering even a modest amount of income security for local communities.
For example, Olga and her family live near the mangrove forest site in Mahajanga. The return of ocean life has allowed them to begin fishing in the area, and here she shows off several river snappers that will be sold at market.
Fish and other marine-based foods are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). They are also rich in calcium, phosphorus, and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Experts recommend eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet, and that indeed is happening in Madagascar thanks to the return of the mangrove forests.