RANGOON — More than 10,000 mangrove trees will be planted in Pathein, the capital of the Irrawaddy Delta region that often sees massive flooding during the rainy season, sometimes forcing inundated local residents to flee their homes.
The project aims to help restore the ecosystem in and around Pathein City, where at least 2,500 people were displaced by flooding in 2012. The thousands of mangroves are to be planted along San Si Poe Street in Pathein, Worldview International Foundation said, after the NGO received permission from the regional government to go forward with the initiative this week.
With the cooperation of Pathein University, Worldview will produce literature on caring for mangroves and will invite the residents of Pathein to participate in the planting of the trees, according to a press release by the foundation on Wednesday.
“We chose to start our mangrove project in Pathein and if our project succeeds in Pathein, we will plan to plant in other towns of Irrawaddy region,” Ranil Senanayake, senior scientist and project director for Worldview International, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.
He said that mangroves were a species indigenous to the delta and were once plentiful in Pathein. Boosting their presence across the city’s landscape would make a statement of environmental responsibility in an area where population growth and industrialization has seen mangrove numbers dwindle, Senanayake added.
Mangrove forests are an important habitat for a variety of terrestrial and marine life, and serve as a bulwark against coastal erosion, as well as helping to reduce the impact of extreme weather events like Cyclone Nargis, which in 2008 killed more than 130,000 people after making landfall in the Irrawaddy Delta.
“Pathein, which is one of the delta towns, has been experiencing seasonal flooding every rainy season, so we aim to plant mangroves alongside streets. Local residents in this community will carry out to plant along the street and monitor once we get Worldview’s offer on plants and guidelines on the planting method and monitoring process,” Saw Poe Grat, who lives on San Si Poe Street in Pathein, said in the press release.
Senanayake said in the press release that Worldview received permission from the regional government office on Monday to plant in the public areas and hoped to begin with private gardens by the end of this monsoon season, sometime around August.
“Ecosystem restoration is a job for everyone, not just institutions and NGOs. By inviting the residents of Pathein Township, I hope to increase the local awareness of this need and the fact that it is something that everyone can do,” he said.
The Irrawaddy Delta hosts the country’s largest concentration of mangroves, but according to a 2013 report by researchers at the National University of Singapore, more than 3 percent of the forest was lost annually from 1978 to 2011.