Bringing the mangroves back: A community effort to restore a vital ecosystem


Anna Obi Akpe, 2024 Wetland Restoration Steward, shares the importance of community togetherness in restoration efforts

Imagine a vibrant coastline teeming with life. Lush green mangroves line the shore, filtering water, providing habitat for incredible creatures, protecting communities from floods, and improving the livelihood of coastal communities. Precariously, this vision is fading in many parts of the world, including here in the Esierebom Community of Cross River State, Nigeria, where mangroves are being degraded at an alarming rate for various myopic reasons. 

Bio-rescuers At our youth-led organization, Biodiversity Rescue Club (BRC), have a mission to change this narrative. We began a project to restore the degraded mangrove ecosystem in our coastal community in Nigeria. But it isn’t just about planting trees, it’s about building a collaborative effort for a healthier, and sustainable future.

Anna Obi and volunteers in the mangrove nursery. Clement Oko.

Anna Obi and team members in the mangrove nursery. Andrew Mario

Joining hands with the community

Our restoration journey began with a meeting with the community’s heart and soul, the traditional chiefs and youth leaders. We discussed the importance of these wetlands and how crucial their support is for the restoration’s success. The warm welcome we received solidified our belief in the power of community engagement. Together, we are fostering a shared commitment to protecting the environment and the well-being of local people.

On 17 January 2024 Anna Obi leads Bio-rescuers during a meeting with the traditional chiefs of Calabar South Local Government Area to seek their consent on the restoration project. Monday Nseobong.

Growing hope: from seedlings to sanctuary

Next came the vital task of establishing a 187.5 square meter nursery housing 3,000 mangrove seedlings, destined to revitalize two acres of the ecosystem. The nursery, strategically placed near the restoration site, ensured optimal water quality for these delicate plants. And guess what? We used eco-friendly materials, even using invasive species like Nypa palms for nursery fencing and shade, a win-win for the environment!

Nursery establishment. 8th May 2024. Clement  Oko.


Youth at work to establish the nursery. Clement Oko

The community spirit truly shone when women, youth, and our project team came together to fill 3,000 polybags with soil from the mangrove site. This inclusive activity prepared us for planting and strengthened the bonds between our organization and the community.

 Young people filling polybags. Clement Oko.

Esierebom women filling polybags. Clement Oko.

The filling of polybags was followed by the planting of the mangrove propagules by the young women of the community. The decision to invite women to handle the planting was strategic since they are symbols of fertility and productivity in our community. Due to this fruitful process, we believe the mangroves will be richly productive and dominate the wetlands of Esierebom.

The young women of Esierebom and BRC plant the mangrove propagules. Clement Oko.

After planting, the Esierebom community mangrove eco-guards have taken charge of the daily monitoring and care of the mangrove seedlings. These eco-guards were officially inaugurated at the stakeholders’ workshop and they immediately swung into action. The project team consistently guides the eco-guards as we jointly sustain the mangrove nursery.

Oseni, BRC Project Assistant, picks weeds from the mangrove nursery. David Oyama.

Building a brighter future, together

We understand that successful restoration requires a comprehensive approach. For this reason, a workshop was held on the 31May, with a diverse group of stakeholders, including community leaders, government agencies, NGOs, research institutions, and media representatives. By mapping their roles and interests, we are fostering a collaborative effort with shared ownership and a long-term vision. 

A cross-session of participants at the stakeholders’ meeting on the 31 May 2024. Godwin  Ogbiji.

More than planting trees

This project is about so much more than restoring a wetland. We empower our community. By fostering knowledge and skills in mangrove restoration, we are equipping the Esierebom community youth and women to become stewards of their environment by taking local action and becoming a part of the global solution to climate change.

Restoration steward with community youth after a meeting on why and how to become stewards of their environment. Courage Yegwa.

Meeting with Esierebom women. Anna Obi.

Inspiring the next generation

With our Biodiversity Restoration Clubs in schools, we aim to cultivate environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility in young minds. We embark on conservation education, field trips, and offline and online campaigns with school children. According to David Attenborough, “if children don’t grow up knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it. And if they don’t understand it, they won’t protect it. And if they don’t protect it, who will?” This profound insight underscores the importance of educating the younger generation about the natural world. 

By instilling a sense of wonder and respect for nature from an early age, we lay the groundwork for a future where biodiversity is valued and preserved. At BRC, we are committed to nurturing this awareness and dedication in children, striving to raise Bio-rescuers who will restore, protect, and cherish the environment. 

Biodiversity Restoration Club class with secondary school students. Anna Obi.

Anna Obi (Restoration Steward) and Oseni Oreoluwatomi (BRC Project Assistant) led the Students of our Restoration Club to inspire Radio listeners on 22 May 2024, World Biodiversity Day to be “Part of the Plan”. Sparkling FM Staff.

A ripple effect of change

This project is just the beginning. We envision a Calabar coastal ecosystem where mangroves thrive in healthy landscapes, valued by the Esierebom Community, Cross River State, Nigeria, and the global community that embraces and benefits from the diversity and integrity of Nature. We will continue to share our progress, achievements, and challenges, hoping to inspire others to join the fight against extinction and climate change, one mangrove seedling at a time.

 Anna and team during a meeting with Mentors on Google Meet.

A stakeholder visits the mangrove nursery after the workshop. Clement Oko.

A visitor having a nice time at the mangrove nursery. Clement Oko.

1 Comment

  • Sustainable action in revving the world to it nature well been ❣️

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