On the occasion of the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems, Save Maldives reaffirmed the campaign's efforts to save the withering wetlands of Neykurendhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll.
The death and decay of Neykurendhoo's mangroves were first observed in March, prompting the island council to bring the matter to the attention of relevant authorities.
Neykurendhoo's wetlands were designated a protected environmental site in December 2018 and are among the largest and most ecologically rich mangrove ecosystems in the country, in addition to being an important food source for the people of the region.
"On this International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems, we wish to inform the public of the critical importance of mangroves to the Maldives and to highlight the fact that the Maldives is a mangroves nation with many of our islands protected and served by wetlands and mangrove ecosystems", a statement publicised by the collective read.
"The resilience of many of our islands and communities depend on the rich diversity of these precious and finite natural resources which act also as a defence system from climate events".
In June, Save Maldives launched efforts to properly understand the cause of mass die-off happening at the mangroves, by connecting with mangrove experts and scientists to study the phenomenon with expert support and guidance.
"An initial field survey and a community consultation were organised and conducted from 25 to 26 June 2020 to obtain critical information to understand the mass die-off", the collective stated.
Funded by the Neykurendhoo Island Council and the Human Ecology Council of the Commonwealth, the survey was carried out according to the Health Protection Agency's (HPA) guidelines, in collaboration with Save Maldives, International Union for Conservation of Nature's Mangrove Specialist Group (IUCN MSG), and the Mangrove Action Project (MAP).
According to Save Maldives, the main objectives of this activity were to better understand the causes of the mangroves die-off and to collaborate with community members, businesses, civil society organisations along with government offices to conserve this critical ecosystem to the community.
"We are encouraged to see that since our study visit, the Environment Protection Agency has also visited Neykurendhoo to make an assessment of the mangrove die-off".
We hope that insights obtained from both parties would help to further understand the cause of the phenomenon and solutions can be found to prevent further loss, protect, and conserve the mangroves", Save Maldives wrote.
In addition to Neykurendhoo, other islands in the north, including Kelaa in Haa Alif Atoll, Kanditheem in Shaviyani Atoll and Kendhikulhudhoo in Noonu Atoll, have also reported that decay in their wetlands.
However, so far, no action has been taken to mitigate the decomposition of these mangroves.