How are fuel efficient

stoves, sea grasses and climate change adaptation linked? To learn the answer to that question, members of the Malapoa College Reef Check Club, along with students from Ulei Junior Secondary School and Tebakor College visited the climate change adaptation site on Pele Island.

Sea Grasses are one of the most important marine ecosystems in Vanuatu, alongside coral reefs and mangroves. Sea grasses provide habitat and breeding areas for important food fish and shells, they trap sediments that can harm coral reefs and they are an important sink for climate change-causing green houses gasses like CO2. Sadly climate change is already affecting Vanuatu’s sea grasses through warming sea surface temperatures. But climate change isn’t the only thing affecting our sea grasses… Human development activities are creating more and more soil erosion that is running off the land and smothering our sea grass beds. One of the main culprits of erosion is through deforestation, often through cutting trees for fuel wood and cooking fires.

In order to solve these problems, and adapt to climate change, the students from Malapoa, Ulei and Tebakor participated in a day-long field school on Pele Island with support from the yacht-based NGO Oceanswatch and the SPC-GIZ Climate Change Programme.

The morning was spent with Mr Mason Myrmo of Oceanswatch who supervised the students’ construction of two fuel efficient rocket stoves for the local community. “These stoves are cheap to make, with only a few waste tin cans, but because they are insulated they are much more fuel efficient than cooking on an open fire.” The students were amazed how quickly a pot of water was able to boil with only a few small twigs. Tebakor College’s Jerryson Vatu observed that “with these stoves the village won’t have to cut down so much of the forest for firewood, and that will help keep soil from eroding onto and killing the sea grass beds”.

In the afternoon, Ms Georgia Coward of Oceanswatch and Dr Christopher Bartlett from SPC/GIZ took the students on a practical exercise for monitoring and surveying sea grass beds. Using underwater transects and quadrats, the students were able to make baseline estimates of the coverage of seagrass, species composition and record the presence of other organisms like octopus, beche-de-mer and clams. With regular surveys the village will be able to keep track of its sea grass’ health, and understand how climate change is impacting them into the future.

Year 13 student Carson Arock of the Malapoa Reef Check Club noted that “sea grasses are more important than many people in Vanuatu realize for food security and climate change adaptation. We are glad to learn how to survey these sea grass beds to detect any changes in the future with climate change and other developments.”

For more information on the fuel efficient stoves or sea grass monitoring, contact SPC-GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region at VanuatuClimateChange@gmail.com or visit the NAB online Portal www.nab.vu.

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