Saving mangrove wetlands in Mexico
Mangroves are the arborous vegetation on the tidal zones between marine and terrestrial environments, requiring both fresh water and seawater to function. They help mitigate climate change due to their high photosynthetic rates, local communities rely on them for construction materials and firewood, and it is estimated that almost 80% of global fish catches are directly or indirectly dependant on mangroves.
A UK-Mexico Sustainable Development Dialogue project has recently helped to reforest some of Mexico’s mangrove wetlands.
Dolphins amongst mangroves
The Nayarit mangrove forests
The mangrove forests of Nayarit are located on the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. They include one of the most extensive and productive mangrove forests of Mexico, and some were included in the Ramsar Convention.
These ecosystems serve as one of the most important winter habitats for birds migrating from North America. Nevertheless, they have been threatened by different factors, including natural phenomena such as hurricanes and human activities such as deforestation, land use and hydrological system changes, tourism, construction of dams and roads, aquaculture industry, and agriculture.
Reforesting the mangroves
The UK-Mexico Sustainable Development Dialogue funded a regional action plan for the reforestation of the mangrove wetlands in Nayarit, through capability building for local community “ejidos” and the development of tools for wetland restoration, conservation, ecotourism and sustainable use, implemented by the National Forestry Commission (Conafor). Its purpose was to improve the conservation and restoration of the mangroves of Nayarit through the capacity building of the local communities.
Mangrove Nursery, Ejido of Francisco Villa
The project ran from October 2007 to March 2010; its outcomes included:
- Training for community settlers, covering areas such as: restoration of mangroves, bird watching, ecotourism services and projects, environmental education for women; local communities have also developed a “train the trainees” system
- 220 reforested hectares; 300,000 mangrove plants grown in supported nurseries; 60 kilometres of mangrove canal cleaned
- Diagnosis of the situation of the mangroves
- Regional action plan for the restoration of mangrove swamps
- Manual of mangrove restoration experiences in Nayarit’s rural communities
- Directory of tourism suppliers
Declaring the mangroves a natural protected area
The mangrove area known as Marismas Nacionales Nayarit has recently been designated a Natural Protected Area, in the Biosphere Reserve category. The communities of this area were initially reluctant to this designation. However, thanks to the training and capacity building that the project gave to the communities, they recognised the importance of the mangroves and entered a dialogue with the authorities, helping to start the process for the declaration of the Natural Protected Area.
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