Stories from the field | WWF

Stories from the field

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Mrs Martha Stella, Bajito Vaqueria village in Colombia's Pacific coast
© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com

Story of Martha Stella from Colombia

Bajito Vaqueria is a village located south of the Colombian Pacific coast, ten minutes from Tumaco, in the middle of an extensive mangrove area.
When we arrived there a charming woman, Mrs Martha Stella, who introduced herself as a community leader and proceeded to tell us about her and the community relation with the mangroves, received us. “I was born here in Bajito and since I opened my eyes I´ve seen everyone is fishing, piangua* or fishes. In this community women, men and children fish piangua.  I remember that in the past the charcoal didn’t exist, nobody used to burn charcoal, we cooked with wood, but one day some men came and started burning charcoal and the people here learnt to burn charcoal and cut the wood, half of the community was dedicated to this activity. Back then we didn’t think that cutting the mangroves was bad, because when went to collect piangua it was abundant the first days, but after… it was depleted. We didn’t have experience, there was nobody to teach us, and we used to do things our way. Nowadays, with the support from institutions like WWF and Corponariño we have learnt that cutting the mangrove is harmful for us, because the piangua disappears. We have also learnt how mangroves protect us from the sea, in the past, here where we are, this was small because the sea used to take it, but as the mangrove started growing, the sea didn´t come in anymore. Mangroves favor us in many ways; they provide us with piangua, piacuil, and crabs and protect us from storms. That is why we know we have to protect mangroves and we are restoring them. So, we tell the young that we need to increase the mangrove area. I like the work we have done here, when women plant the seedlings they do it with love and care for the restored areas”.

* piangua is a small mollusc, harvested mostly for local subsistence
 
	© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
Mangroves restoration site in the Colombian Pacific coast
© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
 
	© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
Discussing mangroves restoration techniques with Corponariño experts in the Colombian Pacific coast
© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
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Local fishermen in Diana region of Madagascar
© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com

Offshore fishing in Lalandakana, Diana region of Madagascar

WWF, in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks, has donated a boat with a sail, an engine and fishing equipment for offshore fishing to the Local Park Committee of Lalandakana village in Diana region of Madagascar.
Jao is a member of the Local Park Committee in Lalandakana village and works in collaboration with the park managers patrolling the park area. He is also a fisherman and provides for his family mainly from selling his fishing products.

But life is becoming more and more difficult for him. As Jao said: “starting from year 2000, fishing products has decreased from about 100 kg per outing per fisherman to 20 kg or even less”. An outing can last from three days to one week. This is caused both by climate and non-climate factors: more fishermen have come to fish around the coral reefs habitat in Nosy Hara National Park mainly during the dry windy season when the wind locally called varatraza strongly blows from the East. Indeed, the wind is now blowing stronger for a longer period making it more and more difficult to go out fishing using the small traditional boat and only a sail.

WWF, in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks, has donated a 7 m boat with a sail, an engine and fishing equipment for offshore fishing to the Local Park Committee of Lalandakana village. Jao is convinced that this will help him and the other committee members in improving the situation of their livelihoods as they will be able to fish during the windy season. But this will also decrease fishing pressure on the coral reefs and thus help increase coral reefs resilience.
 
	© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
Inspecting fishing equipment, Diana region of Madagascar
© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
 
	© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com
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© Alexander Belokurov / imagenature.com

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