Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mangrove restoration protects Guyana's coast and creates a buzz

TRAFALGAR VILLAGE, West Berbice, Guyana (AlertNet) – Rural women living on the coast of Guyana have turned to beekeeping to boost their income while at the same time helping preserve the mangrove forests that protect the coast from rising seas.

Mangroves comprise just one percent of the 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles) of natural vegetation in this South American nation. But the mangroves stabilise sediment and play an important role in coastal protection, vital for a coastline vulnerable to rising seas and heavy storms, problems experts link to climate change.

Now a project funded by the government of Guyana and the European Union to strengthen the country’s sea defences is giving local women the opportunity to profit from keeping bees, which thrive in and around the mangroves.

The scheme aims to give the women an economic stake in preserving the mangroves and thereby help protect some of the country’s prime agricultural land on the coast from flooding.

Donette Cummings, a recent convert to beekeeping in Trafalgar village, has learned through the project about the varied benefits of the mangrove ecosystem.

“I know that the mangroves protect the coastline from the sea and that (they are) a home for the bees. The mangroves have a lot of flowers and you get a lot of honey at a faster rate from them,” Cummings said.

She and some of her neighbours began keeping bees in October and are looking forward to their first honey harvest.

“We hope that in a next three months we start getting honey, and from our projection we think it will be good for us and at least bring in some income,” she said. More