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ECOPAL

Mapping
the

Mangroves

Ahmad Mohammed Hiasat, a student at Qatar Leadership Academy and a QFI Alumnus, shares with Campus a journey of knowledge and service.

48

issue 12

2012

n the occasion of Earth Day, students, teachers, Qatar Foundation International (QFI) staff and scientists came together for the first-of-a-kind Mapping the mangroves project launched by QFI in partnership with Conservation International (CI), to explore and map the mangroves of Qatar at Al Dakhira. For those out there who dont know what mangroves are, this is an awesome definition that I learned during the project: Mangroves are amazing trees that have managed to adapt to growing in an inhospitable salty tide region between the sea and the land. Mapping the mangroves is a project focused on increasing the awareness about the preservation of both Qatars and the worlds mangroves. It is aiming to connect a global network of active environmental citizens who will explore, collect, map and broadcast information about the mangroves online. The freely available collection of information could then be used by students and educators internationally. The information is uploaded using the tool Ushahidi which allows people to upload GPS-tagged data, such as geographical coordinates, photographs, videos, and textual data, from smart phone devices. Moreover, when the data is being uploaded, Ushahidi generates visualizations for this data, which allows people to see a map of the distribution of the worlds mangroves. Qatars shores host several mangroves the largest and the oldest is located in Al Dakhira. It is home to a variety of marine life, including a new species of sea slugs that had been found recently by a member of the Qatar National History Group, and Avicennia Marina - known

as the Grey Mangrove. These mangroves represent a very essential part of Qatars environmental heritage and future. However despite their importance to the Qatari environment, as well as to the worlds, the fact is mangroves are so far not getting much attention. Mapping Mangroves is an important awareness-raising campaign that highlights the critical role of mangroves in storm and fisheries protection and reducing climate change, said Dr Leah Karrer of Conservation International during the expedition. The Al Dakhira project was indeed a very exciting experience by which we have learned a lot about the mangroves and the impact that it has on the ecosystem and the environment. We spent an extensive time exploring Al Dakhira mangroves, collecting data on a variety of marine life and plants, mapping the geographical coordinates of the marine life and broadcasting the information to QFIs Ushahidi online mangroves map: http://mappingthemangroves.qfi.org/. We learned a lot about the different kinds of species present there, as well as the threats that the mangroves are facing.

FACts AbOut mAngrOvEs:


Mangroves play a big role in climate change. Mangroves are one of the three ecosystems that have the ability to store blue carbon, the carbon stored by coastal and marine ecosystems. When carbon is stored, greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere and the effect of global warming is reduced. Mangroves provide a home for turtles, particularly young ones, for shelter and food. Mangroves provide one of the basic food chain resources for other organisms, such as migrating birds, camels, shrimp and fish. Mangroves help in sand storms and fisheries protection, by reducing wind and wave action in shallow shoreline areas. Mangroves prevent coastal erosion, which is very important for a low-lying country like Qatar.

2012

issue 12

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