Today we checked in on some of our mangrove seedlings! We have been starting to map and monitor naturally recruiting mangrove seedlings so that we can see where they are successfully growing, and where mangrove planting might be useful. Over the last month or so, volunteers and interns have been spearheading the project with Naoise, our resident school-teacher, and have tagged and taken initial measurements for just over 80 trees. We have measured height of the seedlings, circumference at the base and the number of leaves that each tree has. Today marks the first time we have re-measured to check in on our seedlings, and will help us decide how often we should be re-measuring.
In the mangroves, plastic and other rubbish can be found all over the place. There isn’t an effective waste management system in place here on Lombok, so much of the waste from the village is discarded nearby. Storms and wind then carry much of this plastic and waste into the ocean or onto the beach, and as the tide comes up, it carries it through the mangroves onto the beach. When the tide goes out, the plastic gets caught in the roots of the trees and gets stuck. We have found multiple seedlings with plastic wrapped around them that we have had to take off as we tag them.
Mangroves form a crucial nursery habitat for many species of fish because their complex root systems keep larger predators from getting in. This means the juveniles are protected as they mature, which allows for increased recruitment back out onto the reef. They also act as a filtration system, keeping sediment and nutrients from the land from washing into the ocean and smothering the organisms growing nearby. Unfortunately, mangroves are used as a source of wood here, so are cut down and burned. In our local mangrove, we can see where mangroves have been burned down before. This is part of the reason mapping the mangroves, not just measuring is important. We want to see which sections are being allowed to grow, and which sections are facing threats to see where planting might be beneficial.
We are happy to report that all of our initial seedlings seem to be doing well, and we were super excited to see new leaves sprouting and growing on our trees! Here you can see a side by side picture of some seedlings we photographed during our initial measurements, and some taken today. If you look, you can see that Tree 8 has fresh growth on its central leaves, and has grown almost 10 cm! If you’d like this opportunity to work with our mangroves and check out the progress of this project in person, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, check out the photos we share on our Instagram! Any questions can also be sent through any social media platform. Hope to see you soon.
Written by Aubrey Pelletier with photographs from Elin Thompson.