World Environment Day is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. World Environment Day activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.
Through World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
The theme for this year is ‘Forests-Nature At Your Service’ and Bluepeace has launched the ‘Save Atoll Mangrove Ecosystems’ campaign.
Mangrove ecosystems are highly productive contributing to the food chains of atoll islands. They are also important to the atoll ecosystems, as they filter out silt, nutrients and sand that would otherwise go out to the house reef around the islands, suffocate corals and encourage algal growth. They play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide.
Without these mangroves many deaths and more destruction from the deadly Asian Tsunami of 2004 could have occurred in many islands in the Maldives.
Mangroves in the Maldives has never been properly studied, already scientists have indicated that atoll mangroves ecosystems might have medically important organisms that might be cures for deadly diseases.
Mangrove Ecosystems are ecological hotspots rich in biodiversity and nursing grounds for milk fish an economically important species that is traditionally harvested in islands as subsistence in rainy season. They are also and important resting ground for migratory birds, and native wetland birds providing them safe shelter, clean water and guaranteed food sources.
Recently short-term investments in non-traditional commercial aquaculture for immediate gains are transforming mangrove ecosystems into salt marshes causing irreversible damage and destruction in the Maldives. Many precious and rare species face extinction and biodiversity is being obliterated. This trend has caused a tremendous toll on the fragile mangrove ecosystem which in many islands are not properly managed and often used as garbage dumps.
Bluepeace strongly calls the government and other stakeholders to take urgent measures to protect this rich biodiversity mangrove ecosystems from destruction, declare these wetlands as nature reserves and for the Maldives to become a party to the Wetland Convention and Bonn Convention on Migrative species.