Where (mangrove) trees thrive, birds prosper

Location: Bangkok, Thailand. 15th Sep 2016

Mangroves are a sign of resilience and resistance, and are critical in maintaining the health of local fishing industries and in protecting vulnerable coastlines from natural disasters. They provide spawning and nursery areas for fish, food and other products for local livelihoods, and they offer habitat for endangered species including sea turtles and otters as well as nesting sites for birds. More recently, almost as if it came to celebrate the third anniversary of a fruitful partnership, a bird was seen nesting in one of the mangrove trees set up at the Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit Park in Bangkok.

Three years ago, IUCN, in collaboration with Mangroves for the Future (MFF), launched a partnership with Marriott Hotels & Resorts Thailand to support coastal communities and mangrove restoration efforts in Thailand. As a sign of recognition, mangrove trees were set up in front of the seven Marriott hotels in Bangkok. These trees are important for education and awareness-raising purposes since mangrove forests are still under threat all around Asia, and it is estimated that at least half of the world’s mangroves have been cleared to make way for aquaculture, coastal infrastructure development, or for charcoal production.

The trees set up in this urban setting allow guests to readily observe the characteristic stilt roots of the Rhizophora trees, the “knee roots” of Bruguiera or the pneumatophores (aerial roots) of Sonneratia right at their hotel. The guests also learn about mangroves, their importance in building coastal resilience, and their specific adaptations to the saline environment, through different education materials displayed at the hotels. Birds, on the other hand, are an indicator of the health of an environment, so the presence of this dove is a good sign that some of the green space in the urban area is being preserved.

Under the partnership with Marriott, over 50,000 trees have been planted in several costal sites in Thailand thanks to generous donations from Marriott’s guests. 

Meanwhile, the trees in Bangkok are growing taller and each visit is a surprise. The discovery of this tiny inhabitant on the Lumnitzera racemosa tree at the Sukhumvit Park was certainly a highlight.

MFF is a partnership-based initiative promoting investment in coastal ecosystems for sustainable development. Through partnerships with local communities, government agencies and private sector entities such as Marriott Hotels & Resorts in Thailand, MFF aims to enhance coastal resilience by applying an inclusive, ecosystem-based management approach to the rehabilitation and stewardship of coastal resources. By raising awareness on the importance of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems in Thailand, this project can make a meaningful contribution to the conservation of mangroves and related livelihoods of coastal communities.

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Bird nest in Sukhumvit Park © Jessada Plodkaew/ Marriott

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