First mangrove stamps launch
Mangrove stamps are a feature of the mangrove campaign, jointly coordinated by WWF-South Pacific and the MESCAL Fiji project under the Department of Environment and supported by the Department of Lands and Post Fiji.
Ratu Epeli said it is important to protect mangroves for posterity sake.
Along with creating national awareness about the importance of mangrove forests, the campaign advocated for the setup of mangrove protected areas to offset the sacrifice of some forested areas to development.
It also complemented the review of Fijis National Management Plan. A cabinet paper containing recommendations about mangrove management in Fiji has been formulated by the Mangrove Management Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Tevita Boseiwaqa. Boseiwaqa said the review with its recommendations will be placed before cabinet in April.
The stamps showcase the importance of mangrove ecosystems to Fiji and Pacific Island countries and would carry the message globally. The logo on the stamp is the MESCAL logo, as it was appropriate to use a logo that indicated a collective effort and making it a product owned by everyone (Fiji).
The images were captured by award-winning international photographer Juergen Freund, painted by local artist Pravin Sen, and finalised and printed in New Zealand.
Mangroves are important to marine and terrestrial biodiversity, coastal resilience, our fisheries and tourism sectors, sustainable livelihoods and a vibrant Fijian economy.
WWF-South Pacific Representative Kesaia Tabunakawai said mangroves also perform a crucial carbon sequestration role, which should be a motivating factor in protecting them.
“Mangroves, seagrass and salt marshes store extraordinary amounts of carbon in their biomass (mass of living things within that environment, in terms of weight per unit of area) and sedimentation, known as blue carbon,” she said.
“Though covering only 5% of the world, the blue carbon forest capture 55% of all carbon captured in the world, according to literature.
“It is reason enough in my view to think twice about allowing clearing large tracks of mangrove forest. As developing countries, we collectively point our fingers at developed nations for their part in releasing large volumes of carbon into the atmosphere.
She added that Fiji is privileged to have mangrove gardens.
“We (Fiji) can help the global cause big time by not clearing our mangroves. Fiji is in a privileged position of having mangrove forests adorn our coastlines. Not all countries of the world have this endowment.”
Tabunakawai said mangroves are also a social utility in terms of food security and income.
“Carbon storage aside, there are the wonderful organisms we catch to eat – qari, mudcrab, kuka, lairo (land crab). The safety in the tangled roots that protect and grow the young reef fish, later caught on the reef by fishermen, that you and I later buy at the Suva market or Bayly bridge.
One of the many beautiful stretches of mangroves I have seen is along the coastline of Mali into Vesi village. On a sunny day, the waters are so clear; you see fishes among the corals from a moving fiber outboard. The water is calm and still. The luster ent shades of green of mangrove leaves, as if recently polished, reflects the sunlight. It is a breath catching view.”
Mangrove protection is a strategic objective of WWF-South Pacific as the best form of coastal resilience protecting coastal communities and nurturing marine biodiversity.