By Bariton Lezabbey
An integral part of the Bodo Remediation Project is the revegetation of roughly 760 hectares using approximately 1.9 million plants to compensate for mangrove losses primarily from two 2008 oil spills and hindered in its inability for regrowth by the activities of illegal oil refiners (kpo fire). The Bodo cleanup project is preparing to shortly initiate the planting of mangrove seedlings to revegetate the damaged areas.
Estimates of natural mangrove recovery are on the order of 40 years or more and active mangrove planting will significantly shorten this time period. Biodegradation aided by mangrove plants (phytoremediation) is expected aid recovery as natural hydrocarbon degradation below the surface in these muds is extremely limited by low oxygen levels.
Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow in saline coastal habitats usually confined to tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and provide an array of economic and ecological benefits. All mangroves share characteristics of being adapted to conditions of high salinity, low oxygen and changing water levels.
The Bodo estuary has both the black, white and red mangroves. The red mangrove (Rhizophora racemosa) comprises the vast majority of the total mangrove colony within the Bodo creek. This species serves as a haven and breeding ground for fingerlings and other organisms in the water body.
SCAT member noting flowering of the red mangrove (Sp. Rhizophora racemose) in the Bodo creek
The Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI) is intensifying efforts to ensure the process of replanting is done without any hitches. The Project Director, Dr. Erich Gundlach in his comments cautioned that there is no guarantee that mangrove seedlings planted in the Bodo area will survive. Survival is hindered by continued re-oiling from illegal activities associated with oil theft, processing and transport. Seedlings have difficulty surviving when black oil coats the stem and leaves, thereby prevent transpiration and photosynthesis.
Illegal oil activities within the Bodo creeks and its environs have the potential of jeopardizing the desirable outcome of the cleanup project in its entirety. Fortunately, the level of illegal activities has reduced in recent months due to the vigilance performed by authorities and work crews in the area. Some mangrove recovery is occurring as noted by seedlings found during field surveys and by using satellite imagery.
The duration of planting is estimated to be approximately two years as cleanup activities ready the area suitable for replanting. Monitoring of the new plants will extend to five years consisting of two years of field (ground) surveys and then continuing with the use of remotely sensed information.