What are mangroves?
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:
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?
Where does Project Mangroves operate?
Along the entire Pacific coast of Guatemala in mangrove
areas and neighboring communities.