Mangroves, essential to fight climate change

Although several laws and regulations have been approved in order to protect the environment, the deterioration of mangroves continues

Mangroves, essential to fight climate change
Mexico has lost 30% of its mangroves - Photo: Left: A mangrove in Mexico (Juan Carlos Calderón/EL UNIVERSAL)/Right: A mangrove in Panama (File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL)
English 06/02/2019 15:52 Notimex Mexico City Actualizada 16:00
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Mexico has lost approximately 30% of its mangroves, which can help fight against climate change. Although several laws and regulations have been approved in order to protect the environment, the deterioration of mangroves continues.

Jorge Alfredo Herrera Silveira, a researcher at the Department of Marine Resources of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) Mérida, explained that these ecosystems have been affected mainly by logging, hydrological changes, and its use to develop agricultural activities, livestock, aquaculture, and tourism.

He also warned that, according to the Global Mangrove Alliance, in the last two decades, around 35% of these have been destroyed.

Herrera Silveira emphasized that according to the report "Mangroves of Mexico. Update and exploration of the data of the monitoring system 1970/1980-2015", issued by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio), the country is among the five countries with the largest extension of mangroves.

In 2015, 775,555 hectares of mangrove were registered. They are distributed in the 17 coastal states in Mexico.

In a statement issued by the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the expert explained that it is a type of vegetation located in coastal areas in the tropics and subtropics, comprised by one or several tree and shrub species.

"These ecosystems retain more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem, the reason for which their restoration and conservation can contribute to the mitigation of climatic change, since they catch CO2 and store it, avoiding their emission towards the atmosphere".

He explained that mangroves act as a natural flood control system, hurricane barriers, control erosion, maintain the sedimentation processes, serve as a refuge for wildlife, and recently, mangroves have been identified as collectors of atmospheric CO2.

Besides the research projects, it is necessary to identify, evaluate, measure, and register the amounts of carbon stored in mangroves, since Mexico has the opportunity to contribute to the fight against climate change, as it has the 4th largest mangrove extension in the world.

"Our country has different climates, geomorphologies, and hydrologies, which favor the existence of different types of mangroves, we are studying this variability and its relationship with the carbon stores in the mangroves within the Yucatán peninsula, from Laguna de Términos, in the Gulf of Mexico to Chetumal in Quintana Roo."

The expert said that there is a collaboration with researchers from Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Nayarit, where it's possible to find different mangrove species, such as red, black, white, and botoncillo.

He also mentioned that mangroves catch CO2 through photosynthesis and store it in the form of organic carbon (CO) in its vegetation and sediments, where it can remain for thousands of years.

This type of CO storage in mangroves, seagrasses, and brackish marshes are known as "blue carbon."

He emphasized that "in the case of the mangroves in the Sian Ka'an Reserve in Quintana Roo, where we carried out one of the first studies about carbon storage in mangroves in Mexico, it was estimated that the amount of organic carbon stored in the mangroves is equivalent to mitigating CO2 emissions from over 1.5 million people every year.”


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