Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
This is the central question addressed in the work of Véronique L'Hoir. She is not starting from a sanctioning and sanctimonious point of view, but she attempts in an open mind to qualitatively and quantitatively track this trade in the Saloum Delta and downstream the commercial links in Senegal and to identify its beneficiaries. Evidently, the question whether and to which extent the mangrove in this Biosphere Reserve is damaged by these practices is more than touched upon and actually constitutes its central motivation. The problem of unsustainable exploitation of precious ecosystems like mangroves is almost universal to developing countries having such forests (which means most coastal tropical developing countries), whether legally protected or not. The matter, as was well understood by Véronique L'Hoir, is not settled by simply enforcing the legal protection status, without understanding and eventually lifting the constraints to the local population. Attempting to reach development objectives regarding management of natural resources without a sound scientific basis, as given here, makes no sense and would be aborted later anyway. The work of Véronique L'Hoir is highly relevant and interesting, especially because not many data of such rare precision are available. The work is accurate and well-written. The difficult conditions at various levels for this type of work can hardly be underestimated, explaining its apparently small sampling scope, the general information level of the data remains very high.
She carefully describes what is being harvested, where it is collected, how it is marketed and what purposes the material serves at various levels, up to re-use steps, late in its product lifetime, far from its production site. Existing and possible alternatives to mangrove pole utilization are analysed. The idea of solving the problems of various parties that might feel the consequences of a further enforced protection of mangroves is excellent. Serious solutions are proposed, but Véronique L'Hoir did not and could not yet come up with directly applicable guidelines. However, she offered a sound basis, which should be further built on (through additional work) in a very near future : time is indeed running out ! This should make factual improvement in the field possible and give this dwindling ecosystem a secure future.
Report by Prof. Dr. Eng. Nico Koedam, Research Group General Botany and Nature Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium