Leading Mexican practitioners find innovative solutions
Mangroves are among the most valuable ecosystems worldwide but are being depleted rapidly. Four mangrove restoration projects were just completed that, together, restored or enhanced 453 acres of mangroves along the Mexican Gulf Coast. Leading Mexican restoration practitioners, each addressing unique environmental challenges, have developed and proven innovative techniques that produce lasting results, which prompted the Foundation to make this investment. Moreover, they formed a partnership that seeks to advance mangrove restoration opportunities in Mexico. Their successful and cost-effective techniques will be of great interest to other practitioners. Five marvelous videos are now available that demonstrate, in everyday English and beautiful imagery, the challenges, the methods, and the communities that have been impacted in a powerful way.
GMF Mexico Chapter Executive Director Eric Gustafson tours Tuxpan mangrove restoration site with project leader Dr. Jorge Lopez Portillo, INECOL. Construction of a powerline embankment unintentionally cut off seasonal freshwater flows, killing hectares of mangroves. The power company is working with INECOL to monitor and restore proper soil and water conditions.
Mexico is among the five countries with the largest mangrove surfaces in the world, but also has one of the highest mangrove loss rates. ‘Mangrove Restoration in Key Mexican Coastal Lagoons at the Gulf of Mexico’ aimed to build upon a basic principle—bring together capable restoration practitioners to implement restoration projects, develop a meaningful and sustainable collaboration, and communicate successful stories in order to identify and communicate long-term solutions for mangrove ecosystems in Mexico.
“This project created a collaborative forum for some of Mexico’s premier practitioners that allowed mangrove restoration participants to share techniques, lessons learned, and information that will allow them to work together on ways to better conserve and restore mangroves in Mexico,” said Mike Smith, Gulf of Mexico Foundation Program Manager. Under the leadership of the Foundation’s Mexican affiliate, this effort has produced excellent results on the ground and employed local community members in the work, which fosters community support and a sustainable future for the mangroves.
Recognizing the importance of mangroves and the fact that Mexico does not have any federal or state policies devoted to restore mangroves, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc. and the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Mexico Chapter, A.C. (GMF-Mexico) partnered with Pronatura Veracruz A.C., INECOL A.C., Universidad Autonoma de Campeche, and National Commission of Protected Areas to restore four Mexican coastal lagoons, with unique environmental conditions and threats to mangrove ecosystems, in the states of Veracruz, Campeche, and Quintana Roo and produce videos that serve as engaging educational tools. The collaboration between these top practitioners was the brainchild of Dr. Cuauhtemoc Leon Diez, Technical Director of the GMF-Mexico, and it’s Executive Director Eric A. Gustafson. “All over the world, the loss of mangrove is alarming. Our main goal in this project is to demonstrate that restoration is possible and feasible,” explains Dr. Leon.
Mangroves nourish coastal fisheries, reduce the impact of floods and storm surge on coastal communities, trap sediments and filter pollutants from stormwater, provide wood products along with culturally-important and recreational services to local communities. Of global importance, mangroves are more effective at capturing carbon than other mature tropical forests. Even though they are of major importance for humans, mangroves are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, and have among the highest rates of deforestation of any forest ecosystem.
Since 2001, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation has made key investments to restore challenged habitats and to foster collaboration toward better restoration outcomes. As part of the Community Based Restoration Partnership, which promotes conservation at a grass-roots level by funding citizen-driven habitat restoration, community played a vital role in the project. A positive social impact was made by hiring and training members of local communities to restore, and educating them on the value of preserving mangroves, essentially creating ambassadors for the natural systems that provide so much for us all.
To view beautiful videos that tell the story of all four mangrove restoration sites, click here.
For more information on the Gulf of Mexico Community-Based Restoration Partnership, click here.
Funding for the Mexican mangrove projects was provided by: