With all the hurricanes going on in the Pacific, I wanted to learn about the importance of the mangroves on the Mexican coast. I found a video that opened my eyes. You can see it here. So I decided to look a little deeper and was sad to find out that Mexico has 5% of the worlds mangroves and yet leads the world in mangrove destruction.
Those 700,000 hectares of mangroves in Mexico contribute to about $70 billion to the national economy. In fact, is is estimated that the value of a hectare of Mangrove in Mexico is worth $600,000 USD. That is how valuable they are to the environment and the economy. Fishermen averaged annual hauls of 10,500 tonnes of fish and blue crab, worth US$19 million for the 13 regions combined. (2001-2005) 33% of the fish were species which rely on mangroves. (Source)
So what would happen if it is gone? Every year, thousands of hecares are cleaned up and replaced by shrimp farms, agro-industrial plantations or huge touristic developments. As an example in Cancun in 2016 over 143 acres of mangrove forest were destroyed to build offices, apartments, shopping malls, and a church… all for the sake of Tourism!!!
A study shows that at the current deforestation levels, in the next 25 years, close to 50% of the mexican mangroves will have been lost. In La Paz, Baja California, 23% of the mangroves were wiped out between 1973 and 1981. They are already considered to be endangered and illegal to destroy by Mexican Law. (article 60 of the General Law of Wildlife (LGVS) )
Mosquitoes rarely breed in mangroves. Instead, they lay their eggs on the surface of brackish pools in marshy areas near mangroves where their larvae, or wrigglers, can develop. Adults often shelter by day in mangroves, where they feed on sap and nectar from mangrove trees. (Queensland Museum)
I am happy to know what people are doing about this very special ecosystem. In 2010, Mexico started a mangrove conservation program. with the objective of restoring the mangrove forests that have been destroyed. Currently about 160 hectares of mangrove have been restored in the south east coast of Mexico. The program was so successful it has been extended to include Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific coastlines.
In April 2017, 300 local fishermen in Pajaritos in the state of Nayarit where I live, started a reforestation program. The fisherman realized that their livelihood was disappearing, as one of the fishermen explained in an interview, that the mangroves provide food for the fish, so when the mangroves were gone, the fish were gone and his way of making a living was gone. And like him, many of the fishermen in the area are being affected since they cannot provide for their families.
I really hope they keep up the good work. I didn’t realize how important mangroves are for the ecosystem and for us!! I will also investigate about mangrove conservation in my community to help this nation-wide effort to restore our coastal lines.
For those who do not know what a mangrove is: Mangroves are a dense formation of woody vegetation. Like short trees or shrubs that grow in coastal waters. Mangrove forests are composed by one or more species of mangrove and some other climbing species of plants. They are salt tolerant trees and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions.
More than 35% of the worlds Mangroves are gone with many countries losing about 50% a year. Mexico’s loss is higher that that.
Why Save Mangroves?
- Preserve water quality
- Reduce pollution by filtering the water and holding the dirt down in the mud and assimilating the dissolved nutrients.
- Mangrove forests are also home to many species of birds, mammals, crustacea and fish.
- Many medicines come from Mangrove Forests
- Wood from Mangroves is extremely durable
- Mangroves prevent erosion
- Important to local economy
- Helps protect land from Natural disasters.
Hurricanes and Mangroves: Research over the years has shown that mangroves help reduce storm damage.
1999 the Odisha cyclone hit the North Indian Ocean, killing around 10,000 people on the Indian coast. But Alfredo Quarto, head of NGO Mangrove Action Project, says there was “no death toll in populations living in areas where mangroves were intact’. (Corporate Watch)
Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans ‘was aggravated by the loss of 50 miles of wetland in the 1960s, wiped out to create a canal for large ships to navigate through the Mississippi River. The canal, named Mr Go, was opposed by locals who claimed that the swamplands protected their villages from hurricanes.'(Corporate Watch)
It is good to know that the locals are realizing the effect of their livelihood on m