WANDER WITH WILDCOAST: Meet Our Staff – Tannia Frausto

Climate Change | Mangroves

Rappelling in Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Photo credits: Tannia Frausto.

My Story

I was born in Mexico City, a city full of buildings and cars. Fortunately, my parents took my siblings and me once a year to the beach in Manzanillo, Colima, on the Mexican Pacific coast. There I learned to swim, and I met iguanas, rain forests, and mangroves. It was there that I fell in love with the ocean. Unfortunately, it was also where I learned about environmental degradation. Each year that I returned, something had changed; the water was more polluted, more garbage, less jungle, until in the end, Manzanillo became a polluted industrial port. This episode in my life encouraged me to study biology at the National Polytechnic Institute and work to prevent the story I saw in Manzanillo from repeating itself elsewhere.

In 2010 I studied for a master’s degree in Marine Ecology at Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education in Ensenada, Baja. I joined WILDCOAST in 2013 as Oaxaca’s Coastal Coordinator, where I initiated a program to protect the coral reefs of Huatulco National Park in Oaxaca and helped to conserve its globally important sea turtle nesting beaches. In 2015, I collaborated with the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas to promote 142 wetlands of international importance in Mexico. Since 2017, I have been the Manager of Climate Change, where I work on the conservation of mangroves as a natural solution to climate change.

Loreto Bay,  Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo credits: Celeste Ortega.

How My Work Impacts Climate Change

I am working on the conservation of 47,000 acres of mangroves in Northwestern Mexico, which store in their leaves, roots, and soil around 3.4 million tons of carbon, the equivalent of the emissions produced by three million vehicles driven a year. We also conserve the natural services that mangroves offer us, such as protection against hurricanes, livelihood, food, and regulating the local climate.

Mangrove forest in Mexico. Photo credits: Miguel Angel de la Cueva.

How My Work Impacts Communities

Each community is unique with its history, challenges, and strengths. For that reason, before implementing activities in the community, I have an open dialogue with community members to identify together the main environmental needs in the community. Some of the activities that I have implemented in collaboration with the communities are: beach clean-ups after a hurricane, training workshops on turtle monitoring, talks about the importance of coral reefs to tourist guides, and talks on biodiversity and climate change to local authorities.

Training workshop on coastal ecosystems for local authorities and stakeholders in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo credits: Carlos Orozco.

Training workshop on coral reefs for tourist guides in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo credits: WILDCOAST.

Why I Became A Conservationist

I have been a lucky person who has been able to enjoy nature at its best, whether diving in Cabo Pulmo, watching the whales in Laguna San Ignacio, or witnessing thousands of nesting sea turtles in Rio Seco, Oaxaca. My commitment is that my niece and the new generations will enjoy the beauty of nature as I have.

Gray whale in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo credits: Claudio Contreras-Koob.

My Favorite Memory Of Working At WILDCOAST

One of my favorite memories is giving talks about the conservation of sea turtles and coral reefs to the children of the indigenous communities of the Oaxaca coast. What amazed them the most was knowing that coral reefs are not rocks but living things and tiny animals. Children are always the best audience. They are naturally curious and the best partners to spread the conservation message in the community.

The children of either indigenous communities or big cities give me hope for a better future because they are more environmentally conscious than adults. Their main concerns are plastic pollution and climate change. I believe that they will take much better care of this blue planet and make better decisions than us.

Environmental education activity in Rio Seco, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Photo credits: WILDCOAST.

Biggest Challenge We Are Facing Right Now

From my perspective, the biggest challenge we face now is “time.” The fight against climate change is a race against time. That is why we must be strategic. Natural solutions, such as mangrove conservation, is one of the most effective actions to face climate change.

Environmental education activity in Rio Seco, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo credits: WILDCOAST. 

What Is One Thing You Wish Everyone Knew About Your Job?

WILDCOAST’s conservation activities don’t just benefit the communities we work with directly. Each hectare of mangrove that we protect is tons of carbon dioxide and methane that we avoid being released to the atmosphere, which helps reduce the effects of climate change, which is a global benefit.