Restoring Mangroves with EMR Technique in El Salvador
Spanish article first published in FIAES’ July 2012 issue.
FIAES Julio 2012 – Nathan Weller
Implementation of the EMR Technique in the Country
Ecological restoration has been defined as “the repair of the diversity and dynamics of indigenous (endemic) ecosystems by humans.”
Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) takes into account a site’s hydrological processes and history. Traditional reforestation methods are insufficient for guaranteeing long-term mangrove forest viability and biodiversity because ecosystem dynamics should first be understood.
Unfortunately, the majority of mangrove restoration projects start immediately with the planting of seeds or propagules without first determining why natural recuperation has not occurred.
From July 11 to 14, 2011, over 30 people met in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador to participate in a practical workshop that lasted four days. The workshop was developed in the Bay of Jiquilisco Biosphere Reserve with the aim of discussing threats to mangrove restoration and implementing the EMR technique. Prior to the workshop, over 200 people participated in a national forum that took place in the capital on July 8. The event was organized jointly by the Initiative for the Americas Fund (FIAES), EcoViva, the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and the Mangrove Association.
Workshop participants included conservation scientists, community leaders, cooperatives, technical liaisons from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and NGO technicians who carried out projects with financing from the FIAES. During the workshop, both challenges to zonal mangrove restoration and methods for the application of the EMR technique in restoring specific areas of the Bay of Jiquilisco were evaluated exhaustively.
In the western zone of the Bay of Jiquilisco, sedimentation of the channel known as “El LLorón” has led to advanced stages of degradation in 70 manzanas (approximately 121 acres) of mangrove forest. As a result of the synergy among the different organizations that work in the zone, both a critical route and a plan of action have been identified. A plan for cleaning 3 kilometers of the channel, directed by the Protected Areas Consolidation and Administration Project, PACAP/MARN, will allow the ecosystem to recuperate through application of the EMR technique. Additionally, FIAES is financially supporting the cleaning of a stretch of 1.2 kms as part of a project executed by the Mangrove Association.
The mangrove ecosystem represents the greatest potential natural and socioeconomic resistance to the risks of climate change. However, due to its state of deterioration this ecosystem is vulnerable to the projected and already observed effects of climate change in El Salvador. Healthy areas of mangrove forests represent the most economical alternative for protecting the coastal zone against strong waves during tropical storms.
EMR has six modules or components:
1) the ecology of mangrove species and communities.
2) the role of hydrological regimes in the forest succession of saltwater forests.
3) the assessment of historical modifications to mangrove areas.
4) the selection of recuperation sites.
5) the design of recuperation, implementation and monitoring plans, and
6) the planting of propagules if determined necessary.
EcoViva works in alliance with Central American communities with scarce resources that have organized to achieve environmental sustainability, economic self-sufficiency, social justice and peace. The organization has worked for 15 years to promote a vision for community development, conservation and political participation with a local character in the Bajo Lempa and Bay of Jiquilisco—a vision created by the allied communities.
Along with allies like FIAES, the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and the Mangrove Association, EcoViva will continue to contribute to the innovations and political processes necessary for ensuring a viable and healthy environment for future generations of Central Americans.
Translated by: Alaina Marie Sylla