Jun 272016
 

Despite some recent setbacks to hotel projects planned for the Caribbean side of Mexico, hotel building continues to gather pace elsewhere in the country, seemingly regardless of the long-term advantages and ecological value of retaining an undisturbed, or minimally-disturbed, coastline

In April, at Mexico’s major tourism trade fair, the Tianguis Turistico, in Guadalajara, authorities announced the go-ahead for Costa Canuva, a $1.8 billion tourism project in the state of Nayarit. The project is a joint venture between the federal tourism development agency, Fonatur, and Portuguese construction firm Mota Engil.

Costa Canuva is in the municipality of Compostela, and is situated about 65 km (40 mi) north of Puerto Vallarta international airport and will be under three hours driving time from Guadalajara once the new Guadalajara-Puerto Vallarta road is completed.

Costa-Canuva

The 255 hectares (630 acres) of beach, estuary and mountains involved in Costa Canuva has 7 kilometers (4.3 mi) of beachfront, and was designated by Fonatur several years ago as the site for a purpose-built resort. The original version of the project, which never got off the ground, was known as Costa Capomo.

The revamped project, Costa Canuva, will add five hotels and more than 2,500 homes to this stretch of coast known as Riviera Nayarit. The first phase, expected to take three years and create more than 2,000 direct jobs, includes a luxury Fairmont Hotel, residential areas, and a golf course designed jointly by golf supertars Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa.

The master plan for the project includes a beachfront village with 2,500 residential units, more than 20 kilometers of cycling tracks designed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and an adventure park featuring canopy rides and ziplines.

The centerpiece Fairmont hotel will have 250 guestrooms and suites, more than 22,000 square feet of meeting and event space, six restaurants and bars, an expansive outdoor swimming pool and a massive spa, as well as a center for children and young adults.

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How was Playa Escondida (“Hidden Beach”) formed?

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Jun 022016
 

Following on from our look at the potentially disastrous environmental consequences of publicizing Playa Escondida (“Hidden Beach”), one of Mexico’s most beautiful small beaches, we take a look at how this extraordinary beach was formed.

Playa Escondida. Source: Google Earth. Scale: The beach is about 30 m (100 ft) long.

Playa Escondida. Source: Google Earth. Scale: The beach is about 30 m (100 ft) long.

Playa Escondida is on one of the small, uninhabited Marieta Islands, in the Marieta Islands National Park, off the west coast of Mexico, and relatively close to Puerto Vallarta.

playa-escondida

The beach is an “eye to the sky” and is aptly described by travel writer Brandon Presser, as follows:

At the center of Isla Redonda [is] a quirk of nature seen only on the pages of a fantasy novel—a sandy beach carved into the rounded core of the island like the hole of donut. Although completely invisible from the shoreline, a bird’s eye view reveals lapping crystal waters and an empty dune like dazzling colors at the end of kaleidoscope’s funnel.”

The Marieta Islands are formed of volcanic rocks and are an extension of Mexico’s Volcanic Axis.

Just how was this beach formed? Prosser describes two alternative suggestions. The first is that the volcanic rocks were not uniform in composition and hardness but had differences in resistance to subaerial weathering and erosion. According to this theory, the weaker, less consolidated rocks were eroded more quickly than the surrounding rocks to leave a giant chasm in the ground. This chasm was then breached on one side by marine action.

The alternative theory mentioned by Prosser, and the only one mentioned (though without citation) by wikipedia, is that the chasm was formed by human activity, specifically by the Mexican military who undertook bombing practice in and around the islands prior to when the area was given National Park status.

Coastal geomorphologists might argue the case for considering a third theory, involving the formation, first, of the cove on the outer coast of the island, followed by a combination of marine and subaerial action to exploit a line of weakness in the volcanic rocks to create a landform known as a geo (a narrow, deep, cleft extending inland from the coast). This geo may have gradually lengthened over time, by continued cave formation at the head of the geo, with marine erosion at the back of the cave opening up a blowhole, a small opening to the sky. A sequence of collapses and blowhole formation, over time, may have created Playa Escondida, where the interior beach is the base of a former blowhole, where the roof has collapsed and the material subsequently removed by marine action or pounded into beach sand.

Whatever the explanation, this particular geomorphosite is one of Mexico’s many natural treasures, and one well worth preserving for future generations.

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The downside to publicizing one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Other  Comments Off on The downside to publicizing one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches
May 232016
 

In the past couple of years, Mexico’s federal tourism department has included a truly magnificent beach on some of its publicity posters. It is one of those advertising posters that really catches the eye. I first saw a poster featuring Playa Escondida (“Hidden Beach”) in a departure lounge at Vancouver’s International Airport and spent the next hour watching people’s reactions as they passed it. Several people paused and studied the photo, demonstrating its success in capturing people’s attention.

playa-escondida-tourism-poster-2The beach concerned, also known as the “Beach of Love”) is on one of the small, uninhabited Marieta Islands, in the Marieta Islands National Park, off the west coast of Mexico, and relatively close to Puerto Vallarta.

The posters, and resulting publicity, have led to so many tourists wanting to experience the beach for themselves – more than 2500 visitors a day during Easter Week this year – that Mexico’s National Protected Areas Commission (Conanp) has ordered the beach closed for at least three months due to concerns about environmental damage. Conanp has indicated that the local coral reef has already been adversely impacted by tourism.

Conanp’s decision follows a study by scientists at the University of Guadalajara which concluded that tourism has led to the death of coral, accumulation of garbage, and to pollution from hydrocarbons. The study estimated the beach’s environmental carrying capacity (the number of people that could visit the beach without causing lasting environmental damage) to be 625 visitors a day. Given the secluded nature of this beach, its perceptual carrying capacity (the maximum number of visitors that other visitors can tolerate, based on such impacts as noise) may be even lower.

To assuage some of the economic concerns of tour operators, Conanp is making plans to open a different beach on another of the Marieta Islands for tourism at some point in the near future.

During Easter week, there were numerous press reports that boats ferrying people to the Marieta Islands from El Anclote, Nayarit, were often overcrowded and carrying more passengers than their permits allowed. Boat owners, not surprisingly, deny this, and claim that this is yet another attempt to dislodge them from their remaining toehold on Punta de Mita, where a major upscale tourism development forced many fishermen out of their homes about thirty years ago. For details, see the text accompanying our Map of the Beaches of Jalisco.

islas-marietas-playa-excondida

The number of tourists traveling to Playa Escondida increased from 27,500 in 2012 to 127,372 in 2015. While the federal tourism poster was not the only publicity given the beach, it certainly appears to have played a part in increasing public awareness of this scenic geotourism location, ultimately resulting in the need to make it off limits for tourism, at least for now.

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We discuss the consequences of tourism, good, bad and neutral, at length, in chapter 19 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy (Print or ebook) today!

Apr 182016
 

Only weeks after the suspension of hotel construction work in the Malecón Tajamar area of Cancún due to the wanton destruction of mangroves, work on another major hotel project in Cancón has also been stopped.

This time, it is the building of Riu Hotel’s 95-million-dollar, 530-room, Hotel Riviera Cancún, with two 70-story towers, that has been halted. The project is in the Punta Nizuc area of Cancún’s Hotel Zone, off Boulevard Kukulcán. A judge has now ordered that the project be permanently suspended because it infringes a federally-protected zone that extends 100 meters from nearby mangroves in the Nichupté protected area.

Cancún by Arthur Gonoretzky (Flickr)

Cancún by Arthur Gonoretzky (Flickr)

The judge also ruled that Fonatur (the National Tourism Development Fund) had illegally sold a beach access road to benefit the Riu development. In addition, the municipal government of Cancún had approved a change of land use category (zoning) for the area in order for the hotel construction to begin. The original zoning limited construction to a height of only three stories.

According to press reports, Luis Riu, the president of the Riu hotel chain, claims the issue has nothing to do with mangroves but is about political influence, and because the wealthy owner of a neighboring hotel had been upset at not acquiring the land himself.

Despite these local successes, it is unlikely that this latest setback to hotel construction on the coast really signals a sea-change in Mexico’s attitude to unbridled development of its shoreline. There are still numerous other projects underway in other parts of the country that endanger local habitats, as well as many more major projects on the drawing board. Even so, it is encouraging that the judicial process is showing signs of siding with environmentalists and those seeking to ensure that Mexico’s magnificent coastline and scenery survive its grandiose tourism development plans.

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Community-based ecotourism in La Ventanilla, Oaxaca: success or failure?

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Jun 182015
 

Ecotourism at La Ventanilla on the coast of Oaxaca, a small community of about 100 inhabitants, located between the beach resorts of Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel, began more than twenty years ago. It is based on trips run by local guides through the mangroves lining a lagoon on the Tonameca River; the area’s wildlife includes iguanas, birds, crocodiles and sea turtles.

The main local cooperative that conducts tours is called Servicio Ecoturisticos de La Ventanilla (La Ventanilla Ecotourism Services). Income from its tours supports reforestation and other ecological projects, including a greenhouse for mangrove reforestation and a nursery to hatch and raise crocodiles for release on Uma Island, in the lagoon. A breakaway co-operative, Cooperativa Lagarto Real, also runs some local excursions, though its profits do not contribute to local conservation efforts.

La Ventanilla (Google Earth)

La Ventanilla (Google Earth)

Most visitors to La Ventanilla come only for the day; the small local community offers only limited services or accommodations for tourists. The community of La Ventanilla is often held up as a shining example of how a well-implemented “assistive conservation” ecotourism approach can combine environmental conservation with economic sustainability, while enhancing the local quality of life.

But is this apparent success story quite as idyllic as usually portrayed in the mainstream press? Dr. David Vargas-del-Río, a researcher at ITESO in Guadalajara, sets out to explore this question in his recent article, “The assistive conservation approach for community-based lands: the case of La Ventanilla”, published in the December 2014 issue of The Geographical Journal. The article is based on Vargas-del-Río’s doctorate thesis at the UPC University, Barcelona.

As Vargas-del-Río explains, “The assistive conservation approach includes strategies for conserving community-based lands based on a complex combination of traditional and modern scientific knowledge. It enjoys broad legitimacy and seems promising for conserving territories with autochthonous populations. However, as a novel strategy, it has been applied mostly to societies and environments that are fragile in conservationist terms.”

The author explores how there has been a gradual shift in the protection of natural areas from ‘top-down’ to ‘bottom-up’ models of environmental management, before turning to his case-study of La Ventanilla. La Ventanilla lends itself to such a case study since an assistive conservation approach was first implemented there more than twenty years ago, More than sufficient time to allow for some follow-up evaluation. His eventual conclusion is that while assistive conservation approaches sound good in theory, they may, over time, make local ecologies “more vulnerable to social and environmental degradation, especially as traditional management institutions once responsible for ecological integrity become obsolete”.

In reviewing the background literature, Vargas-del-Río asserts that there are “three broad critical currents” of criticism of the assistive conservation approach. These include the potential adverse impacts of utilizing protected areas for tourism. The provision of attractions, installations and other services, leads to “new dynamics, impacts and transformations” in terms of tourism providers, and may result in “competition between local actors and powerful tourism agents, both conventional and emergent.” Potential issues include changes in local consumption and behavior patterns, and the view that nature and local culture are commodities.

Just how was this manifested in the context of La Ventanilla?

Initial effects of the assistive conservation approach in La Ventanilla were positive. Restrictions were placed, and enforced, on “activities considered ‘disruptive’; that is, hunting, selling local species, harvesting turtle eggs, and felling mangrove trees…”The cooperative soon won praise for its environmental responsibility and received more funds from the government to conduct volunteer conservation projects, including reforestation in the mangroves, a deer reserve, a turtle egg nursery, and areas for iguanas, among other initiatives. Hence, it continued to receive financial and moral power which it exercised over the rest of the population, while promoting conservation and tourism over traditional uses.”

Following extensive fieldwork in the community, Vargas-del-Río found, “a marked tendency towards spatial segregation, social fragmentation, inequality and speculation; phenomena that have emerged as a direct result of the ‘conservation’ initiative with its nature-based tourism activities and imposed environmental restrictions.”The La Ventanilla Ecotourism Services Cooperative (CSELV) is “controlled by six local leaders who own the lands where the cooperative’s main assets are located, handle all accounts, and elaborate support and funding applications.” Other members of the co-operative are “simple wage earners”.

Inequality triggered by the project led to segregation, in terms of housing quality, in the central area of the community. A group of nine disgruntled members of the initial co-operative, broke away in 2004 and founded a second co-operative, Lagarto Real. They “disregarded the management plan”, “sabotaged some conservation and ecotourism initiatives undertaken in this sub-zone, and set up restaurants, shops and camping sites of their own that lacked the ‘green’ image that others were marketing.” The growth of ecotourism has led to land speculation, including a controversy over the construction and (illegal) sale of a small hotel built on communal property.

The island of Uma is controlled by the original co-operative and no longer accessible for traditional activities such as agriculture. There has been a dramatic shift in economic activities. “Agriculture and fishing are now practiced by just 7% of inhabitants and represent an important source of income for only 10.7% of households. In contrast, tourism-related activities occupy 34.7% of the people, represent 70.1% of the economically active population, and are the main source of income for 67.9% of households.”

Vargas-del-Río concludes that previous assessments failed “to take into account slow, gradual changes”. One outcome has been “a higher risk of land degradation in social and environmental terms as the local society fragments, inequality increases, more actors (external and local) strive to profit from the territory, and regulation becomes more difficult.”

In conclusion, “assistive approaches modify ways of approaching nature, restrict traditional uses in favour of tourism, weaken local management institutions and degrade environmental and social relations.” The assistive approach “undermines the cultural, economic and local environment while creating new spaces for consumption.”

Source:

David Vargas-del-Río, 2014. “The assistive conservation approach for community-based lands: the case of La Ventanilla”, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 180 #4 (December 2014) 377–391.

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Oct 062014
 

According to press reports such as Buscan dar “nueva cara” a Puerto Arista (in El Economista), there are plans afoot to develop nearby mangrove swamps as part of an ecotourism project. Local architects in the coastal town of Puerto Arista in Chiapas are backing the project to build what might best be called Mangrove Riviera.

The state government has released this 4-min video that summarizes the plan, with models and images of the area:

The initial investment required to get Riviera Manglar “Pakal Ahau” under way is around $120 million. The major advantage, from the state’s point of view, is that it would open up a new region of the state for tourism, cashing in on the area’s natural wealth, especially its mangroves. Proponents argue that the town could easily become a major center for ecotourism and that provided that the project incorporates a high degree of sustainability, and prioritizes the cultural identity of each location, it could be a model for similar projects elsewhere.

The six main places involved in Riviera Manglar “Pakal Ahau” are

  • Puerto Chiapas
  • Zacapulco
  • La Encrucijada
  • Costa Azul
  • Chocahuital
  • El Gancho

The project would extend to a subregion including Bahía Paredón, Boca del Cielo, Playa del Sol, Bahía Marías, El Madresal, Mojarras, Laguna La Joya, Cabeza de Toro, Cerro Bernal, Manglares and Villa Tortuguero.

In time, Puerto Arista could become another “tourist gem” in Chiapas and offer an interesting continuation of the long-standing Ruta Maya.

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Mexico’s shrimp farms tackle disease crisis

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Sep 202014
 

Mexico’s total shrimp production in 2007 was 178,000 tons. This total masks a significant trend in shrimping. The high-seas catch has declined since 1990 and less than a third of the total catch now comes from the 2100-vessel specialist shrimping fleet based in the port of Mazatlán. On the other hand, production of fish-farmed (“cultivated”) shrimp has risen sharply over the past 20 years and now accounts for almost 70% of total national production. In the past 24 months, fish-farmed shrimp have been hit by a serious disease, which has caused high mortality and a drop in production.

The main shrimp producing states are Sinaloa (520 shrimp farms; 35,000 hectares of shrimp ponds; 40% of cultivated shrimp production), Nayarit and Sonora (see map).

shrimp-map

Credit: Shrimp News International

Wild shrimp

Catches of wild shrimp have been in decline. Shrimp fishermen are worried about the overfishing of shrimp stocks in shallow coastal waters, allegedly due to clandestine fishing by non-authorized boats. Pollution of coastal waters from agricultural chemicals is also a major concern.  According to Adolfo Gracia Gasca, a researcher at UNAM’s Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (ICMyL), only two species of wild shrimp are NOT overexploited: the brown shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, and the brown shrimp in the Pacific.

Among the many wild shrimp populations that have collapsed are the white and pink shrimps of the Gulf of Mexico. Catches of pink shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico declined from 10,000-12,000 metric tons a year in the 1980s to around 500 metric tons in recent years. Catches of white shrimp in the same area over the same period fell from 1,600 metric tons/year to less than 200 tons/year. The major problem has been the failure to enforce a closed season for shrimping during their main reproductive periods. On the Pacific coast (including the Sea of Cortés), shrimping resumed on 5 September 2014.

The Shrimp Trade

Shrimp exports are worth $360 million a year. Shrimp imports have risen sharply in the past two years as disease has reduced domestic production. Indeed, Mexico is currently having to import more frozen shrimp than it exports.

Mexico’s shrimp exports in the first half of 2014 were worth US $91.4 million, slightly down from 2013, while imports shot up 935% to $106.6 million. Mexico is importing shrimp from Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize.

Cultivated shrimp

As a consequence of Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), the production of farmed shrimp dropped sharply between 2012 and 2013, but is expected to recover in 2015. EMS first appeared in 2009 in the southern part of China, and then spread to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. According to SAGARPA, the disease shows up in the first 20 to 30 days of life of the shrimp, and especially affects tiger (Penaeus monodon) and white (Litopenaeus vannamei) shrimp. The disease adversely impacted thousands of producers, with shrimp mortality rates as high as 98%.

The strain of EMS found in Mexico is very similar (but not identical) to the Asian strain. It is unclear how it arrived in Mexico and whether or not it was transferred across the Pacific.

The National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (Comision Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca—CONAPESCA) sets the closed season for fishing and shrimping. In general, the closed season is timed to coincide with the shirmp’s summer breeding season.

What is being done about EMS?

Among the strategies being adopted to combat the adverse impact of EMS are research, provision of financing and limits on shrimp imports from infected regions.

In June 2013, a breakthrough in EMS research was reported, when investigators attached to Kinki University and the National Research Institute of Aquaculture in Japan showed that the disease repeatedly manifests itself in ponds where the pH levels are between 8.5 and 8.8.

Shrimp farmers have needed emergency financing to help them restock shrimp ponds. In 2013, fish farmers in Sinaloa received $75 million to help with shrimp production and exports.

In April 2013, Mexico’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretariat (SAGARPA) ordered the temporary suspension of shrimp imports originating from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. The suspension included all tiger and white shrimp, whether live, raw, cooked, dehydrated or “in any presentation”. However, this strategy was criticized by international experts as “counterproductive”, given that there is no evidence for EMS being spread via dead shrimp.

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How fast are mangroves disappearing in Mexico?

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Sep 012014
 

It is surprisingly difficult to give a single, definitive response to this seemingly simple question, so in 2008, Arturo Ruiz-Luna and a group of researchers set out to answer the question once and for all, by taking a close look at the available data and its reliability.

The first challenge is to define precisely what counts as “an area of mangroves”. Since the edges of any one type of vegetation tend to merge gradually into the next, the boundaries between types are often not clear or discrete. The second challenge is to find comparable maps or records of the extent of mangroves in former times. In many cases, earlier maps were based on simple aerial photography as opposed to the more sophisticated satellite imagery available today. Equally, studies relying on different technology may produce quite different results.

Ruiz-Luna and his colleagues concluded that there was a high degree of uncertainty over the true extent of mangrove cover in Mexico and over the rates of mangrove depletion.  The unreliability stemmed from the very different estimates of mangrove cover given in earlier studies.

Opposition to mangrove destructon

Opposition to the destruction of mangroves, Cancún climate summit, 2010

They found that the earliest estimate of the extent of mangroves in Mexico, made in 1973, was 700,000 ha (1.7 million acres). From 1980-1991, a figure of 660,000 ha was widely quoted. This is thought to have been derived from the previous figure using a linear regression to include estimated deforestation rates.

On the other hand, a study in 1992, based on 1:3,800,000 scale maps, arrived at an areal extent of 932,800 ha. A 1993 government estimate, based on satellite imagery and supporting ground survey, came up with a figure of 721,554 ha. A 1994 estimate, also using satellite data, arrived at a similar figure.

Since 2000, estimates vary from a low of 440,000 ha (based on deforestation rates and linear regression) to a high of 955,866 (almost all of it mangrove, with a small area of secondary mangrove succession).

According to Ruiz-Luna and his co-authors, it is therefore likely that the true value of the extent of mangroves lies somewhere between 600,000 and 900,000 ha, with the authors plumping for 800,000 ha as a reasonable estimate.

Why are mangroves lost?

Mangrove habitats are lost due to damage (deforestation) from logging and land use changes. Examples of land use changes adversely affecting the extent of mangroves are:

  • the conversion of mangroves to harbors, as in Manzanillo (Colima)
  • mangroves being converted for hotels and tourist use (Cancún)
  • mangrove swamps being reassigned for aquaculture (San Blas)

The loss of mangroves can also result from changes to hydrological systems on the landward side of the mangroves. For example, when an artificial channel was opened in the 1970s in Cuautla (Nayarit) to connect the Marismas Nacionales with the sea, the channel was originally about 50m wide. It is now about 600m wide in the middle, and more than 1000m wide at its mouth, due to damage caused by the river flow, and from the greater exposure of mangroves to higher salinity water, as well as increased mangrove mortality from storms and hurricanes.

While there are some small-scale projects to replant mangroves in some tourist area, this is unlikely to be a good substitute for the original mature mangrove ecosystem. This is why Geo-Mexico is happy to help publicize public protests against mangrove destruction, such as the one pictured above which took place at the Cancún climate summit in 2010.

Reference:

Arturo Ruiz-Luna, Joanna Acosta-Velázquez, César A. Berlanga-Robles. 2008. “On the reliability of the data of the extent of mangroves: A case study in Mexico.” Ocean and Coastal Management 51 (2008) 342-351.

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Aug 232014
 

Mangrove swamps have an undeserved reputation for being impenetrable thickets harboring noxious insects and reptiles. But they also have considerable value, in terms of both ecology and economics, as this case study of the Marismas Nacionales mangroves on the west coast of Mexico will demonstrate.

Map showing location of Marismas Nacionales

Map showing location of Marismas Nacionales

The Teacapán-Agua Brava-Marismas Nacionales Lagoon System extends northwards along Mexico’s Pacific Coast from San Blas in Nayarit to the southern part of Sinaloa. It is one of Mexico’s largest areas of mangroves. The total area of mangroves in the Marismas Nacionales is estimated at 58,100 hectares (224.3 square miles). Four species of mangroves are found here:

  • black mangrove (Avicennia germinans)
  • white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)
  • red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle)
  • button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus)

Mangroves in Mexico are estimated to be disappearing at a rate of at least 2% per year, though the available evidence suggests that the Marismas Nacionales mangroves are relatively undisturbed.

A 2012 study, undertaken by a group of Stanford Students for the Ocean Innovations Environmental Defense Fund considered the ecosystem services provided by Mexico’s largest area of mangroves, the Teacapán-Agua Brava-Marismas Nacionales Lagoon System of Nayarit and southern Sinaloa and attempted to calculate the mangroves’ carbon sequestration potential.

The ecosystem services considered included:

  • fisheries for shrimp, mollusk, fish and crustaceans.,
  • aquaculture (primarily shrimp), forestry (charcoal, firewood, wood and roofing materials),
  • agriculture,
  • coastal protection (mangrove roots help bind unstable coasts, preventing erosion and providing a natural barrier against hurricanes),
  • habitat for other species (breeding, shelter and feeding places for fish, crustaceans and birds) and
  • ecotourism (as in Mexcaltitán)
Mezcatitlán

Mezcatitlán, island settlement in Nayarit

The report tries to quantify the value of each of these services. For example, it finds that the total annual revenue brought in by coastal fisheries alone around Marismas Nacionales (including shrimp, catfish, crabs and sharks) almost certainly exceeds $10.8 million.

In terms of carbon storage, the study took into account the carbon sequestered in the form of biomass (as a result of photosynthesis) as well as the carbon exported from the ecosystem via processes such as respiration, sediment burial and mineralization. The total Net Ecosystem Production (NEP) of carbon in the Marismas Nacionales was calculated to be 8 metric tons of carbon/ha/yr or about 470,000 metric tons/yr for the entire area.

Reference:

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Where are Mexico’s mangrove swamps?

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Where are Mexico’s mangrove swamps?
Aug 142014
 

The National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, CONABIO), has identified 81 distinct areas in Mexico that have mangroves with “biological significance and in need of varying degrees of ecological rehabilitation” (see summary map). These regions are distributed as follows:

  • 10 on the northern Pacific Coast
  • 6 on the central Pacific Coast
  • 13 on the southern Pacific Coast
  • 27 on the Gulf of Mexico and
  • 25 on the Yucatán Peninsula.

A national inventory has now been compiled by CONABIO. All areas have been surveyed and preliminary descriptions published including details of their location, size, physical characteristics, socioeconomic conditions, local uses of mangrove, biological details, including vegetation structure, and an assessment of local impacts and risks, management and existing conservation measures.

Map of distribution of mangroves in MexicoThe areas of mangroves have been mapped at a scale of 1:50,000 and satellite photos from 2005-2006 have been used in conjunction with fieldwork to calculate the areas of mangroves. The final map is believed to be more than 90% accurate, a reasonable baseline for future comparisons. CONABIO is planning to resurvey the mangrove areas every 5 years following the same methodology.

According to preliminary comparisons with previous attempts to quantify the extent of mangroves in Mexico (the subject of a future post), the loss of mangroves was greatest in the period 1970-1980, and in 2000-2005, but then diminished in the period 2005-2010.

Between 2005 and 2010, the states where mangrove loss remained high (as a percentage of the total area of mangroves in the state) included Chiapas, Baja Californa Sur and Sonora. However, the states losing the largest areas of mangroves in absolute terms were Quintana Roo, Campeche and Nayarit. Jalisco has the unfortunate distinction of being the state where coastal mangrove loss was highest (in terms of the proportion of its total coastline length bordered by mangroves).

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