Main Menu-The Manzanar Project

Articles, Letters, News & Reports


Children's BookThe Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families (Roth & Trumbore), 201

VideoLecture at Gordon College about Manzanar Project, 2012 

Article:   Love of Science Breeds Life of Humanity, Pacific Citizen, Nov. 2008

Article:   Alleviation of poverty on the barren coast of Eritrea, June 2008

Article: Mangroves fight hunger.  Reuters, May 2008

Citation:   Doctor of Humane Letters at Rutgars, Fall 2007

Article:  Sato, the Maritime Johnny Appleseed in Forests of the Tide by Kennedy Warne.  National Geographic February 2007.

Wikipedia Entry:  Gordon H. Sato

Article:  Sato tribute to mentor Dr. Theodore Puck, 2006In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol.-Animal 42:235-241
(click on logo for full text)
� 2006, Society for In Vitro Biology.    This material has been published in In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol. Animal, the only accredited archive of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review.  Copyright and all rights therein are retained by the Society for In Vitro Biology.  This material may not be copied or reposted without explicit permission of the copyright owner. 

Article: The Coast Guard, Science & Spirit, 2006.

Article:   Sato, G. et al., (2005) A Novel Approach to Growing Mangroves on the Coastal Mud Flats of Eritrea with the Potential for Releiving Regional Poverty and Hunger.  Wetlands 25: 776-779.

Interview:   Out of Manzanar, Caltech News, Vol. 39 (2) 2005.

Interview:  Gordon Sato:  Abolishing Hunger (Here on Earth:  Radio without Borders, Nov. 2005)

Lecture: Asahi Glass Foundation 2005 Blue Planet Prize "for showing the possibility of building a sustainable local community in the poorest area of the world"

Article:  Blue Planet Award 2005, Epoch Times, New England News.

Article:  Desert Saint by Pagan Kennedy, The Boston Globe 2004.

Article:   Peace Boat Visit to Manzanar Project, 2004

Interview:   The Manzanar Project on The Connection--WUBR Boston & NPR 2004

Article:   ERITREA: The man who conquered famine- Gordon Sato 2004

Article:  A Drug's Royalties May Ease Hunger by Andrew Pollack (New York Times, 2004).

Article:  Mangroves:  Salt Resistant Allies in the Fight Against Hunger and Poverty, OPEC Fund Newsletter, 2003.

ArticleMangrove Plantations Do NOT Pose Threat to Coral Reefs (Response to New Scientist article) 2003

Video:  The Mangrove Man (Rolex Award for Enterprise, 2002) (Three parts)

Article:  SIVB Lifetime Achievement Award Lecture:  More Questions than Answers 2002

Article:  Planting Mangroves in Non-Native Environments. The Manzanar Project 2000.

Guest Editorial:  The Manzanar Project: Towards a Solution to Poverty, Hunger, Environmental Pollution, and Global Warming Through Sea Water Aquaculture and Silvaculture in Deserts.  In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol.-Animal 1998.

Manzanar Project Report 1998 by Dr. Sato.

Manzanar Mangrove Initiative 1998An economic, incentive driven approach to end global warming.



 Lifetime Achievement Award Lecture:  More Questions than Answers
by Dr. Gordon Sato, In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol.-Animal, 38:429-435, 2002.

A summary of  influences on Dr. Sato's early life that led to a career as an academic research, teacher and professor of biology; the forces that caused him to develop the Manzanar Project, and his most pressing global concerns to date.

(click on logo for full text) � 2003, Society for In Vitro Biology.    This material has been published in In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol. Animal, the only accredited archive of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review.  Copyright and all rights therein are retained by the Society for In Vitro Biology.  This material may not be copied or reposted without explicit permission of the copyright owner. 

Report October 1998:  Manzanar Project
From Dr. Gordon Sato

I have had many recent conversations with individuals about aspects of the Manzanar project. For the sake of efficiency, I've decided to write a general statement about the objectives and methods of the project. This helps to clarify our own thinking as well as to explore how the conceptual and practical methodology of the project could be useful for the division of research and environment. The Manzanar project begins with identifying the problems and proceeds to seek solutions. The most urgent problem facing the nation is poverty. The recent conflict with Ethiopia only emphasizes that long term national security requires economic self-sufficiency.

How poor is Eritrea? Its per capita gross domestic product is about 150 USD per year or about 1% that of developed nations. The longevity of Eritrean men is 48 years compared to 75 years for advanced nations. Housing, nutrition, childhood and childbirth deaths are at unacceptable levels. What is the magnitude of the solutions required? It is the opinion of the Manzanar project that a feasible goal is to increase the per capita GDP tenfold to 1500 USD per year. If achieved, Eritrea would still be a poor nation, but free of the grinding poverty that makes progressive development difficult.

How could this be achieved? Eritrea has few known resources. It may have rich deposits of oil or precious metals, but it would be unwise to base the countries future on these uncertain prospects. Certainly, agriculture, light industry, tourism etc. will all gradually improve with time, but none of these seems likely to provide the quantum leap in production needed to jump-start this economy.

How about the red sea and its possible bonanza of wealth from fish? A sober assessment of the situation reveals that this potential has been exaggerated in the past. The red sea lacks inflowing rivers and upwelling currents. For this reason its low productivity is based mainly on corals and mangroves. Last years landings were about 700 tons, which would contribute about 0.10 USD to the per capita GDP. Research vessels by sweeping defined areas for sampling to assess the total amount of fish in Eritrean waters, come to the conclusion that the maximum sustainable catch of commercially valuable fish is about 10 to 20 thousand tons per year. This is consistent with historical landing records of neighboring countries. If the upper figure is achieved, this would contribute about 3.00 USD to the per capita GDP. Clearly, we in the research and environment department must rethink our mission and exert ourselves to devise new approaches to producing wealth through exploitation of the sea.

The basic assumption of the Manzanar project is that the vast deserts, readily available seawater, and abundant sunshine can be utilized to grow plants that can be irrigated with seawater to create wealth. Many plants can be grown watered with sea water. A moments reflection would confirm this fact. In the shallow waters of mangrove swamps one can observe mats of microscopic algae which serve as food for many organisms and fix atmospheric nitrogen for the trees. Mangroves obviously grow in seawater. Along the shore one can observe grasses and shrubs which must be salt tolerant. The international literature describes many useful plants that can be grown with seawater irrigation.

ALGAE: During the war, we dug shallow ponds near the shore, fertilized them to grow algae, and inoculated the ponds with algae eating mullet fingerlings, In this way we could grow 15 tons of mullet per hectare per year. On Halib Island, Samuel, Tesforn, and I fertilized sea water ponds to grow algae which fed brine shrimp. We produced up to 15 tons per hectare per year. With proper equipment we should be able to substantially increase production. Brine shrimp are an excellent foodstock for any aquaculture or agriculture project.

GRASSES: We have brought salt grass, Distichlis spicata, from America. This grass can be grown with seawater irrigation, and fed to goats, cattle, and camels. Twenty thousand hectares of this grass are grown in Mexico and fed to cattle. We have grown this grass in seawater on a small scale in Massawa, and will scale up the operation in Hergigo. This raises the prospect of converting vast tracts of desert into productive pasture.

SHRUBS: We have seeds of the desert salt bush, Atriplex, and the succulent shrub, Salicornia. Both plants can be grown with seawater irrigation. Atriplex produces a high protein fodder, and the seeds of salicomia can be used for cooking oil. The stems of salicornia can be used to produce high quality fiber board.

MANGROVES: The mangrove project provides many lessons of use to the division of research and environment, so I will describe the work in some detail. The first idea to keep in mind is that all plants can be grown in an inert medium such as sand, if the plants are watered with a solution that contains all the required mineral nutrients, is at an appropriate pH, and has a salinity that is not too high. The mineral requirements of plants have been known for over fifty years. The first question we asked was what is the pH tolerance of mangroves. By planting trees at different pHs, we discovered that the trees survived well at pHs from 6.0 to 9.0, but probably grew faster at the lower pHs. Since seawater has a pH of about 8.5, we need not adjust the pH of seawater used for irrigation. The second question we asked, is what minerals need to be added to sea water to nourish plants? The experiment was simple. A jar of seawater was allowed to stand in the sun. Algae grew very slowly. When ammonium phosphate was added, algae still grew slowly. When a complex algae medium was added to sea water, algae grew rapidly. Comparing the composition of the algae medium to the composition of seawater, it was found that the only elements missing were nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron. When ammonium phosphate and iron were added to seawater, algae grew rapidly. We now know that any plant that can grow in seawater needs only nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron added to the seawater. The next question we asked was why were there no mangroves in the inter-tidal zone near the research and environment compounds. This was puzzling because seeds should drift over from green island, and the many toilets should provide adequate nutrition. When we planted seeds, we observed small waves washing them away. When we planted small plants, they thrived. We now know that many areas around Massawa can be planted with mangroves to improve the local environment, and increase the fishes for local fishermen.

By planting mangroves above sea level in the research compound, we found that the trees do well because they have good drainage, either because the soil is sandy or because we planted them in a hole filled with sand. If drainage is poor, the trees die. We know that providing drainage for mangroves planted away from the sea will be our major concern. Another question we are asking is why is 85% of the Eritrean coast devoid of mangroves. If one observes mangroves in nature they grow in Mersas where the seasonal rains are channeled to the sea. We theorize that the flood waters bring organic material which is consumed by nitrogen fixing bacteria which fix nitrogen to nourish the trees. After the trees are established, they drop leaves, which serve as food for nitrogen fixing bacteria, so that the forest can perpetuate itself. Mangrove forests are in mud filled with oxidizing organic material. If this is true, then inter-tidal zones without mangrove trees can be planted with mangroves, if we plant small trees which cannot be washed away by wave action, and if we provide a slow release fertilizer. We plan to bury next to each tree a perforated plastic bag containing ammonium phosphate and iron oxide.

Let us now consider the economics of planting mangroves. We can plant 1000 trees per hectare. The inter-tidal zone of Eritrea is about 1000 kilometers long and 100 meters wide. We could plant 10 million trees in the inter-tidal zone. Each tree would be worth about 100 USD in twenty years but if we go for value added products such as lumber, each tree would produce about 400 USD. The inter-tidal zone could produce 200 million USD per year or about 70 USD to the per capita GDP of 150 USD. If a one-kilometer wide inland strip is planted with mangroves than the GDP could be raised IOOO USD. The grasses, shrubs, brine shrimp could then bring the GDP to the goal of a two-fold increase over today’s GDP.

The main objective of the Manzanar project is to train people, who have the confidence to think independently, and try new things to build their country. It is important that they have a hands-on working knowledge of the work. Cleanliness will also be emphasized in the Manzanar project. Cleanliness means that people pay attention to the details of work and do it well. We will also try to encourage the municipality of Massawa to beautify the area with plantings of trees and shrubs that can grow with seawater. Toilets should be flushed with sea water. Massawa should use its fresh water supply in a careful and thoughtful way.

Gordon Sato

© 1998-2013, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved