February and March 2012
This past winter saw some exciting developments in the project. One of the purposes of the trip was to monitor red mangroves surviving from past plantings. Many areas are recovering nicely with the oldest individuals growing quickly and beginning to sprout prop roots and produce flowers and propagules!
With tens of thousands of red mangroves thriving, we have directed some efforts towards creating diversity by restoring black and white mangroves, which tend to occupy slightly dryer zones than the red. The seeds of both of these species are very small, making direct tree-to-ground transplanting less efficient. We acquired over 13,000 "peat pots" with funds from the New England Biolab Foundation which are being used to start nurseries. Once the mangroves have grown for several months, the entire biodegradable peat pot can be planted in the restoration area (above).
We have also used the peat pots as a means of transplanting young black and white mangroves from very dense established areas to bare restoration areas. The pots support the roots which allow for easy collection and transplanting.
Though the overall number of red and white mangroves planted will be far less than the reds, they have a much greater chance of success because they will have grown in ideal conditions for several months and will have an established root system, as well as structural support from the peat pots.
We are continuing to work with the local environmental officials to step up the overall conservation effort and involve as many people as possible in the project.