PLANTING MANGROVES TO SAVE THE PLANET

In October, the fishing community of El Delgadito, in coordination with WILDCOAST and El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve (ReBiVi), launched a mangrove restoration project in the southern end of Laguna San Ignacio on the Baja California Peninsula. Through the project, made possible by a grant from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), WILDCOAST, the reserve, and local communities will plant 120,000 red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) seedlings over more than 240 acres of the lagoon’s intertidal zone.

In addition to providing rich habitat for fish, birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife, blue carbon ecosystems like mangroves store more atmospheric carbon than tropical forests. Their conservation and restoration are critical in the face of climate change. 

“With this project and the help of the local community, we seek to build the resistance of the mangrove ecosystem against the effects of climate change, and to implement a mangrove planting system that is scalable to other areas,” explained Francisco Martinez, Wildlands Program Coordinator of WILDCOAST. 

About 120,000 red mangrove seedlings will be planted in an ecosystem that has already suffered from the effects of climate change. The mangroves around Laguna San Ignacio are the northernmost on Pacific coast of the Americas.

In total, mangrove forests occupy an area of ​​9,209.6 acres of the coastal landscape of Laguna San Ignacio. Red and white mangroves are the dominant species, both endangered. These mangroves are short trees up to 9.8 feet high, with dense foliage, and develop only in hypersaline conditions and low freshwater supply.

The coastal ecosystems of Laguna San Ignacio are threatened by climate change impacts such as sea level rise, increasingly intense and frequent hurricanes and tropical storms, changes in the distribution patterns of the species, competition with potentially invasive species, and warming seas. Mangroves provide coastal communities with a defense against these impacts in addition to ecosystem services such as feeding, sheltering, and breeding sites for a variety of commercially important marine species. The mangroves of Laguna San Ignacio support important commercial fisheries, such as California lobster, abalone, brown shrimp, and a variety of bivalve and fish species.

Mangroves also help maintain the quality and ideal conditions of the lagoon’s waters, which house a breeding population of gray whales during the months of December to April. Accordingly, Laguna San Ignacio has a thriving ecotourism scene. 

Given the global climate projections, WILDCOAST’s mangrove reforestation project seeks to strengthen mangrove populations within the lagoon, so that they continue to provide environmental safeguards and services for wildlife, ecosystems and communities. 

“With a vision to ensure a healthy environment for future generations, we will continue working to strengthen the conservation of Laguna San Ignacio and its mangroves,” reiterated Martinez.

WILDCOAST is grateful for the collaboration of Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, the United Nations Development Program, and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for their financial and logistical contribution to the realization of this project.

WILDCOAST would like to especially  recognize the dedication and hard work that the people of El Delgadito have done for the conservation of Laguna San Ignacio and its mangroves.

To help support this project, please donate today!