Women-led Mangrove Conservation Efforts in Mexico Recognised

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climate adaptation Mexico’s Women-led Mangrove Protection and Restoration

Mexico has the fourth-largest mangrove area in the world, after Indonesia, Australia, and Brazil. The Global Mangrove Data Portal shows that the mangrove forest in Mexico covers an area of 7,260 square kilometres.

More than 18 million Mexicans live in coastal communities, and their economy and food security depend on these mangroves.

Mangroves form a particularly precious ecosystem for coastal communities. This green belt reduces coast erosion by forming a protective barrier against severe weather events such as hurricanes.

The roots of the mangroves, submerged in mud and brackish water, serve as nesting and survival shelters for young fish and crustaceans.

Mangroves’ branches also house various wildlife species, including birds, monkeys, and felines. They are also powerful greenhouse gas sinks, absorbing even more carbon dioxide than tropical forests.

But Mexico’s flooded forests are threatened. Data from the Global Mangrove Watch platform reveals a loss of 44,788 hectares of mangroves between 1996 and 2020.

Urban spread, tourism, and infrastructure development threaten Mexico’s mangrove forests

Economic development in Mexico is linked to the shrinking of mangrove forests. For instance, in the Yucatán peninsula and Holbox, an island in the Mexican Caribbean, hotel developments, urban spread, tourism, and real estate growth threaten the loss of its mangrove forest.

Road infrastructure developments in Baja California and Baja California Sur are destroying mangrove ecosystems. In the Tamaulipas region (northwest), however, the extraction of hydrocarbons is one of the main threats. In other areas like Veracruz, in the middle of the country, livestock and tourism are other factors leading to deforestation.

The speed at which mangrove forests far exceed their restoration and reestablishment, which makes conservation crucial. Community-led organisations are popping up in these areas to restore and protect mangroves and raise awareness of the many ecosystem services they provide, including as habitat and a refuge for species, providing fishing and timber resources that are essential to people’s livelihoods, and its ability to regulate carbon sequestration, water quality, nutrient flows, the local climate and to protect the coasts from hurricanes.

Women-led restoration and conservation efforts

In Chelem, a small fishermen’s town in the south part of Mexico, a group of homemakers, mothers, wives, and carers has been recognised nationally for bringing new life to 100 hectares of deteriorated mangroves. Their mangrove restoration technique consists of reconnecting the hydrological systems so the mangrove can start to grow again on its own.

Another mangrove restoration project, RE3CO, is a collaborative initiative led by WRI Mexico in partnership with the Small Grants Program (UNDP-SGP) and funded by HSBC’s NbS Accelerator. The initiative is dedicated to restoring vital mangrove ecosystems in the Yucatan Peninsula, Tabasco, and Oaxaca.

Watch the video below about Mexico’s women mangrove guardians:

Guardians of Mexico’s Mangroves


Mexico: Women lead the way in saving the mangroves. (2023, July 5). UNESCO. Retrieved from https://courier.unesco.org/en/articles/mexico-women-lead-way-saving-mangroves#

Purata, V., Rodriguez, S., & Lomeli, R. (2023 October 4). Community Lessons for Successful Nature-Based Solutions Implementation. World Resource Institute. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/update/community-lessons-successful-nature-based-solutions-implementation

Guardians of Mexico’s Mangroves. (2024). World Resource Institute. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/mangrove-guardians?

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