The China Mangrove Protection Project, China

2008 Whitley Award winner Liu Yi talking to 1994 Winner Amanda Vincent about what winning a Whitley Award has meant for him and his work.

Mangroves are special salt-loving trees that play a significant role in ocean ecology. Their roots stabilise coastlines while also providing important marine habitat for economically important fish and migratory birds. Mangroves also give natural coastal protection to millions of people by protecting beaches from waves and hurricanes. However, in China as elswhere in the world, these important forests are being cut down for firewood and coastal development. In just 50 years, 70% of China’s mangrove forests have been lost. Globally, the loss is significant, with two ciritcally endangered mangrove species found only in China.

Conservation campaigner, Liu Yi, 26, is Chairman of the China Mangrove Conservation Network (CMCN) and Honorary Director of the Greenwild Association of Xiamen University. In 2001, he founded the China Mangrove Protection Project to help protect the mangroves of all five provinces of South-eastern China.

With his team, Liu Yi promotes a diverse range of projects involving research, rehabilitation, education, community development and training. His goal is to raise public awareness of the need to restore and protect mangroves, not only for the benefit of wildlife, but also to increase coastal protection, and at the same time get thousands of people involved in conservation.

In the past six years, 16 projects have been launched by the CMCN and more than 40 NGOs, volunteer groups, coastal communities, schools, and research institutes have joined the network. 200,000 students have taken part in the Sustainable Development Education programmes and 3,000 volunteers have contributed to the reforestation of more than 150,000 mangrove trees. The scope of the project is remarkable and Liu Yi is now eager to expand his work across the rest of China, harnessing grassroot support to catalyse a nation-wide understanding of the need to protect China’s mangroves.

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