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Wetlands and Coastal Zones Bulletin
Volume 1, No. 3

Technical Communiqués
Projects in Central America
Project on Sustainable Use of Resources Associated with Mangroves on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala

What are mangroves?

Mangroves are an ecosystem with trees or bushes having adaptations that allow them to survive in soils periodically flooded by tidal action and with conditions of fluctuating salinity. They are considered to be one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

Within the mangrove are several animal species (fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals) and plants (hoja de cangrejo, gallitos or epiphytes) whose life cycles depend either entirely or partially on these ecosystems.

There are 4 genera and five species of mangrove on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Guatemala. These are:

  • Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle and R. harrisonii)
  • White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)
  • Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans)
  • Buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus)

The Situation of Mangrove in Guatemala

Mangrove forest coverage on the Pacific coast has diminished considerably due to change in land use in order to develop urban, recreational and farming areas. Other factors are shrimp cultivation and saltworks, and overexploitation to extract firewood and materials for housing construction.

In 1965 23,407 ha of mangroves were reported, but by 1996 this number had fallen to 12,000 ha. This is why Article 35 of the Forest Law (Legislative Decree N° 101-96) declares that "the protection, conservation and restoration of national mangrove forests is of national interest."

Why conserve mangroves?

The system of life for many people living on Guatemala's Pacific coast is mainly based on small-scale fishing in the sea and estuary (which also includes gathering salt and freshwater crabs, conch, oysters, and shrimp), small-scale farming, seasonal tourism, salt extraction, consumption or commercialization of different forest products and recently, collecting postlarval shrimp for shrimp production. All these activities depend either directly or indirectly on the stability of the mangrove.

In our country mangroves have traditionally been used as sources of fuel, stakes for agricultural purposes (pashte, tobacco), posts for fencing, tree trunks for construction, and to a lesser degree, to produce dyes for industry.

One of the main sources of income for the country is shrimp and other marine species.

Other services provided by mangroves

The mangrove forest is a natural barrier that protects the coastline from erosion. It acts as a windbreak, prevents salinization of soils and filters pollutants. It offers a means of transportation and communication for many communities, and permits low-impact tourism.

What is "Project Mangroves?"

Project Mangroves arose from concern for the deterioration of mangrove-associated resources on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

This initiative is carried out by the National Forest Institute (INAB) and co-financed by the European Union. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) provides technical assistance and administers the three-year project, which began in 1997.

The project is designed to contribute to sustainable management of coastal resources through the participation of local communities in activities that are ecologically sound, economically acceptable, socially just and set within the supporting legal framework.

What are the objectives of Project Mangroves?

  1. dentify and establish sustainable techniques of using natural resources as productive options
  2. Promote institutional strengthening through training
  3. Promote and support community organization and provide technical assistance for their economic and social development
  4. Contribute to the strengthening of the legislative framework for conservation and sustainable use of mangroves and associated resources
  5. Support and strengthen the management of existing protected areas and promote the establishment of new areas
  6. Promote the creation of awareness and environmental education about mangrove conservation

Where does Project Mangroves operate?

Along the entire Pacific coast of Guatemala in mangrove areas and neighboring communities.
For more information:

Central office:

  1. Guatemala, Guatemala
    7a Avenida 6-80 zona 13
    Guatemala 01013
    Tel/Fax: (502) 473 5213
    [email protected]
  2. Chiquimulilla, Santa Rosa
    Municipalidad de Chiquimulilla
    Tel/Fax: (502) 885 0101
  3. Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango
    Oficina Sub-Regional IX-4 de INAB
    3a Avenida 3-01, Colonia Miguel Angel Asturias, zona 6
    Tel/Fax: (502) 775 1207
  4. Escuintla, Escuintal
    Oficina Sub-Regional IX-2 de INAB
    5a Avenida 0-24, Colonia Los Naranjales, zona 4
    Tel: (502) 889 3186
  5. Mazatenango, Suchitepequez
    Oficina Sub-Regional IX-1 de INAB
    5a Avenida 2-57, Colonia Aceituna, zona 2
    Tel/Fax: (502) 872 2146
  6. Proyecto Manglares (M-186)
    P.O. Box 2 5345
    Miami, Florida 33102


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