The Save Maldives Campaign has been actively involved in raising serious environmental issues occurring in the Maldives, starting with the decision of the government to build an airport in the Kulhudhuffushi Kulhi (wetland and mangroves) ecosystem in October 2017, destroying it irreversibly. In September 2018, with the support and endorsement of 11 NGOs, the Save Maldives Campaign called on the government to conserve the remaining part of the Kulhudhuffushi Kulhi.

In April 2019, with the assistance of several private donors in the Maldives, we facilitated two experts, Alfredo Quarto and Jim Enright from Mangrove Action Project (MAP) to visit Maldives.  MAP is an environmental conservation NGO from the USA specialising in the protection, restoration and conservation of mangrove ecosystems around the world, working closely with affected communities.  MAP assisted the Ministry of Environment to arrange the participation of two scientists from the Mangrove Specialists Group (MSG) of the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Dr Joe Lee from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dr Dan Fries from the National University in Singapore, to join the team.  The two scientists visit was facilitated by the Ministry of Environment.

The primary purpose of the experts’ visit was to assess the status of Kulhudhuffushi Kulhi, and provide evidence-based recommendations and suggestions on preserving this natural asset to Kulhudhuffushi and the Maldives. From 11-14 April 2019, the team of 4 external experts and officials from the Ministry of Environment visited Kulhudhuffushi to study the kulhi, conducting several site visits as well as meetings with the Kulhudhuffushi Council and community stakeholders. The team also visited the nearby protected true mangrove forest on the island of Keylakunu.  Following their study visit to Kulhudhuffushi, the team met with the Minister of Environment and provided information and insights into their findings.  It is anticipated that the experts’ team will provide a formal report of their findings and recommendations to the government on conserving Kulhudhuffushi Kulhi.  The Save Maldives Campaign acknowledges the Ministry of Environment’s efforts to conserve the remaining part of Kulhudhuffushi Kulhi and are committed to support any efforts of the government to protect and conserve natural ecosystems in the Maldives.

In addition to the visit to Kulhudhuffushi, the two mangrove conservation experts from MAP visited the wetland and mangrove forests of Kaafu Atoll Huraa and Baa Atoll Goidhoo.  In collaboration with MAP, the Maldives National University (MNU) and the Save Maldives Campaign, Transparency Maldives organised a lecture entitled Mangrove Talk at the MNU auditorium in Malé City on 19 April 2019. The lecture was given by MAP experts Alfredo and Jim, and was well attended by various stakeholders and members of the public.  MAP experts observed that the mangrove ecosystems they saw in the Maldives are unique in the world in their formation, significant to conserve and hosted some of the most mature specimens of some mangrove species they have seen.

The Save Maldives Campaign thanks our colleagues from BeLeaf in Kulhudhuffushi for their support to ensure a successful study visit. We are especially grateful to all private donors who supported our initiative to facilitate the MAP mangrove experts’ visit to Maldives. We thank our sponsors of this initiative including Sea Sports, Six Senses (Laamu), Marble Hotel in Malé City, Maldivian Aero and Olive Goidhoo guesthouse in Baa Atoll Goidhoo. We acknowledge their donations and pro bono services to make this initiative a success, and look forward to future collaborations in our efforts to #SaveMaldives and our country’s precious natural environment and living ecosystems for present and future generations.