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Ten students leave for a three-week field course in Tropical Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring Methods

  Rufford Small Grants Foundation  



Nosy Hara Marine ParkThe course leaves today, 15th June 2012, for 3 weeks, aiming to give the ten students from the University of Antsiranana valuable training in internationally-recognised monitoring methods, as well as the chance to contribute to C3's pioneering mapping and research project in the area.


As ever, high demand for places meant a competitive and rigorous procedure had to be employed in order to select the ten students who would leave on the trip. More information on the chosen students and their reasons for wanting to enrol on this Coastal Academy course is available here.


The students will travel to Ampasindava where they will be based for the duration of the trip, travelling to local villages in order to map and monitor the valuable mangrove ecosystems around the Nosy Hara Marine Park.


Students will receive training from experienced C3 staff members in the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) methodology for mangrove monitoring, a methodology that is widely used and allows the mapping of mangrove ecosystems, assessment of their structure and composition, and their long-term monitoring. They will learn to identify the different species that the will encounter, to use the various pieces of field equipment such as GPS units that are critical to much ecological monitoring, and then they will practice the methodology. Once confident in this, they will assist with the data collection to determine the extent and status of mangrove ecosystems in the area.


Very little is known about the extent and status of mangroves in Nosy Hara Marine Park, yet this area represents critical habitat for many endangered species, as well as an extremely poor human population that is dependent on these natural resources for livelihoods and subsistence. The research will form a preliminary stage of C3's wider project, that aims to incentivise local communites in the sustainable management of marine resources and the conservation of local communities. In order for this project to be a success, critical data on these natural resources must be collected, and their importance and value to local communities must be better understood. C3 will then provide community services, such as healthcare and education, and help community members move towards more environmentally sustainable livelihoods through small loans, in return for good environmental stewardship of these resources. This project will not only improve people's livelihoods but also promote improved environmental management of the resources on which these communities depend.


This course will give students invaluable field experience that they would not normally get through their university course that will help them enormously in their careers. They will have the chance to learn to use equipment that is commonly used in ecological fieldwork, and will gain an in-depth understanding of the design of a mangrove-monitoring experiment and the application of the methodologies. This is a crucial opportunity for them to boost their CVs and develop practical and professional skills, and to ensure that future environmental professionals have the understanding and knowledge necessary to safeguard these critical ecosystems.