A Hidden Turquoise Paradise in Danger [Archives:2002/03/Last Page]

January 14 2002

Ellen Von Zitzewitz
Strong wind and high waves are threatening our tiny fishermen boat, which should bring us from the tourist camp of Kamaran Island, when suddenly the magnificent mangrove forest appears on the horizon. We enter a breathtaking turquoise lagoon through narrow channels. White and green reef herons leave their nests, but as we are just visitors they don’t feel threatened and soon they return – we become guests in the lagoon. A Sea turtle passes close to our boat. It is just a small visible part of the rich biodiversiy of the lagoon including many bird species such as pelican, flamingo, spoon bills, egrets and ibis. But the most amazing image is the dense green mangrove forest, sometimes in islands sometimes like a real dense coastal forest. Mangroves are evergreen plants, which grow between the mainland and the coast. During low tide they are nearly at dry land, but during high tides they are up to 1.5 meter under the water. They survive these extreme conditions through an elaborated ecological adaptation including air-roots.
On Kamaran we can find two species: Arnica marina a bush-like mangrove of around 2-4 meter high and Rhizophora spp. This species can reach up to 15-meter, has dark green leaves and big trunks. Mangroves are the spines of the ecosystem, vulnerable though. Passing through some further shallow channels between the trees, suddenly clear cuts appear. The forest has been injured by illegal logging, grew wounds in the colorful green and turquoise lagoon. No bird nests or fish and shrimp grounds 
are arguments for those who come secretly to the place destroying its beauty and important economic resource for the local fishermen. We find a boat hidden in the trees, luckily fishermen, not loggers, claiming the military base at Kamaran and people from the mainland responsible for the forest destruction. There is a dream: local fishermen, guarding the lagoon, using it for fishing and maybe shrimp production, tourists visiting the place enjoy and support the effort of protection.
God the creator in the Holy Koran is addressing the human being: We installed you to be our caliph/responsible representative on the earth and furthermore the Koran insists by saying: God reserves tremendous pain to those who deteriorate the earth. This Koranic command to preserve the created environment needs to be realized and executed. Environmental conservation and sustainable use, such as the protection of the mangrove forest on Kamaran, is not only an ethical duty for the nature, but also an essential condition for future economic development of Yemen.