Mangroves and climate change:

Building resilient communities on the frontlines of climate change

Kyeema work in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has centred on sustainable protein production, alternative livelihoods, and helping build resilient marine environments. Happily this is seeing more and more interest and work in conservation and restoration of mangrove forests.

Mangrove restoration involves re-establishing mangrove forests in areas where they have been degraded or lost. The benefits of restoring mangroves are well documented and vital for coastal community resilience:

  • Biodiversity conservation: Mangroves provide habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region.
  • Climate change mitigation: Mangroves absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, making them an important tool in the fight against climate change.
  • Coastal protection: Mangroves protect coastlines from erosion, storm surges, and other disasters and environmental impacts.
  • Livelihoods: Mangroves provide livelihoods for local communities, who rely on them for food, fuel, and building materials. They are important breeding grounds for fisheries serving an important part of Pacific coastal diets and culture.

The key as we see it to effective and sustainable mangrove restoration is having the genuine community-led engagement. This engagement provides the opportunity to build awareness, provide a platform for decision-making processes and foster ownership and the community participation that ensures recognition of the importance of the mangroves far beyond a convenient source of building materials or firewood. This is crucial in promoting the sustainable use of mangrove resources. By working together, communities can find mutually beneficial solutions that balance the needs of local livelihoods with the long-term health of the mangrove forests.

In late 2021, one of Kyeema’s Master Farmers – Koivi Egu established a mangrove nursery at his farm in Tubusereia. Using a direct-planting method, Koivi is now out-planting into a nearby degraded area and is experimenting with various techniques as he cares for over 1000 seedlings and with the support of Kyeema’s DFAT funded Australian NGO Cooperation Program project . Koivi attended a mangrove planting event in Central Province hosted by the Nature Conservancy and is now skilled up and committed to help support this initiative and work towards the exciting goals for mangrove restoration in PNG.

Mangrove seedlings Tubs

Mangrove seedlings in the Tubusereia nursery. 

Another great example of this type of community-led initiative is the Women in Mangrove Management (WIMA) in Poukama, Central Province. These women have been planting mangroves around Hall Sound Bay since 2014. Now with over 30 members and more than 20,000 mangroves planted, WIMA have become a critical rehabilitation and conservation hub for Poukama and Yule Island.

Frontline communities like Poukama and Tubusereia are taking the lead and helping their people change how they think about mangroves, but like many coastal communities in PNG, they are bearing the brunt of climate change.

On Christmas Day 2022, a massive king tide demolished a house in Poukama and destroyed WIMA’s mangrove nursery washing away nearly 2000 seedlings and years of dedicated work. This was a great loss for the significant community-based and female-led restoration

WIMA members - Marie Aisi and Marie Mamei and their mangrove restoration site at Poukama

WIMA members, Marie Aisi and Marie Mamei, and their mangrove restoration site at Poukama

initiative. We are assisting WIMA to build back better an improved mangrove nursery and continue their crucial work and benefit more communities in Central Province. If we can secure more funding we aim to expand the operations and reach of WIMA and make them a leading example of the capability of community groups along the coast.

From left: WIMA mangrove nursery in 2022 before king tide, Right: Impacts of the king tides before it was submerged.

Kyeema is committed to supporting climate impacted communities and building the resilience of those taking the lead in restoration activities in PNG.

Why not help us support WIMA in Poukama to continue their efforts and rebuild their mangrove nursery? This work will leverage the benefits of a wider ‘nature-based solutions to climate change’ project in Yule Island supported through the Climate Resilient by Nature Program of DFAT and World Wildlife Fund Australia.

Simply follow the ‘Donate’ button below or contact us at kyeema@kyeemafoundation.org. Together, we can make a difference and build a more resilient future for the communities and ecosystems that depend on mangroves.

Our mangrove restoration activities are supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).