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#307092 - 10/27/08 11:05 PM Mangroves are worth serious money!
SP Daily Offline
Mangroves are worth serious money!
Patricia Celenza

Belize’s most respected patriot and diplomat, Philip S.W. Goldson stated, “The time to save your country is before you lose it.”
Never were wiser or more prophetic words of advice proffered.
As Belize grows into its own as a maturing independent nation, it faces many critical issues.
One of those issues is the protection of our environment, most particularly, our mangroves.
At an alarmingly rapid rate and on a massive scale, development is not only threatening, but destroying our most precious of natural resources. We have all been informed of the scientific data and research documenting the mangroves as primary protectors and nurturers of our marine ecosystem, from stabilizing shorelines, filtering water, and providing nursery habitat for many varieties of both commercial and reef fish.
The current government of Belize recognized not only the importance of mangroves, but also understood the threat development posed to them when on February 15, of this year, it issued a moratorium on the altering of mangroves. This moratorium overrides all permits.
However, this moratorium, while a very positive move, is only a temporary protection. This moratorium ends on November 15, 2008. So what is the future of our mangroves after this date? Our answer can be found in a recent study of the fishing industry off the western coast of Mexico.
For the very first time, a scientific study has measured the financial consequences of mangrove destruction.
The detailed research of this study puts a real dollar value on the potentially irreparable damage being done to our treasured coastal ecosystems.
In a world where money talks, we now know scientifically, that mangroves mean money.
We have even more reason to protect them.
Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in LaJolla, California selected thirteen marine regions with largely natural coastlines around Mexico’s Gulf of California and on Baja California’s lower Pacific Coast, where fishing is a vital source of food and income. The scientists looked at fisheries records and studied catches at these thirteen fishing regions.
During the period of the study, fishermen in all thirteen regions averaged hauls of fish and blue crab for a combined generated income worth U.S. $19 million.
Roughly one third of all the fisheries landings were of fish species which rely on mangroves as a habitat.
The head scientist of this study concluded: “Without a coastal mangrove ecosystem, the cost of food can only increase.”
With the removal of the mangroves, the amount of fish caught is reduced.
With a reduction of food source, people must pay more for that food source.
This economic value reinforces the need for governments to preserve mangroves.
Based on this study, the scientists say that Mexico grossly underestimated the mangroves’ value in land sales aimed at aggressive tourism development and by setting low prices for these coastal regions, put them at high risk of large-scale destruction.
In the past, the Mexican government has sold mangrove areas for around U.S.$1,000 per hectare, but based upon this study, mangrove zones produce fish hauls with a median value of U.S. $37,500 per hectare annually.
The head scientist, looking to the future, continues: “ Governments need to think about a generational value.”
His team estimates that over a thirty year period, the mangroves should be valued at more than U.S.$600,000 per hectare.
As a result of this study, and in an attempt to prevent a repeat of past catastrophes, Mexico enacted a new law outlawing mangrove destruction.
However, the development industry is investing large amounts of money in lobbying the Mexican Congress to overturn the protections.
This study provides Belize with a clear and urgent mission to protect our mangroves.
Mangroves are like children. They require protection, for mangroves cannot protect themselves. They require advocates. Advocates like the government of Belize: the political leaders, government ministers, department heads, and advocates like you and me, the average citizens of Belize.
We need to legislate protections, monitor them, and enforce them. It is time to stop talking about protecting the mangroves. It is time for action.
It is time to legislate that a developer or any purchaser of mangroves be allowed to remove only twenty five percent of those mangroves.
That developer must preserve the remaining seventy five percent. It is not the intent to stop development, but to regulate it.
It is time to seriously monitor developers and enforce this legislation. No more slaps on the wrist when violations occur.
Knowing that our mangroves represent serious money and also are protectors of a delicate ecosystem and the Barrier Reef, penalties must reflect that. Penalties must be swift, stiff and serious: they should be double what they are now.
It will make any developer think twice before bulldozers and dirt trucks bury our mangroves.
This is no time for hesitation, for dallying.
It is a time of urgency.
It is time to listen to and heed our beloved Mr. Goldson: “The time to save your country is before you lose it.”

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#307123 - 10/28/08 01:26 AM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: SP Daily]
Peter Jones Offline
Once they've been grubbed out how easy/successful is it to replant mangroves? Just supposing Jeff Pierce is denied permission to continue with his "Las Vegas by the Sea" development, could the area he stripped of mangroves before anyone actually told him to stop be replanted?

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#307131 - 10/28/08 02:19 AM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: Peter Jones]
sweetjane Offline
i remember someone saying mangroves are very slow growing.

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#307147 - 10/28/08 03:21 AM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: sweetjane]
Amanda Syme Offline
takes about 25 years to grow from little seedling to bush/tree - member of forest.

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#307173 - 10/28/08 06:15 AM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: Amanda Syme]
Peter Jones Offline
Another reason for being extremely vigilant in protecting the few mangroves we have left on mainland AC.

Actually, can they be transplanted successfully? I'm thinking of selective "thinning" of the mangroves on one of the uninhabited islets around AC, so that they can then be planted where currently there is just mud. Largely, it seems, thanks to the efforts of Jeff Pierce, or am I being unfair? (think how much more attractive the mudbath that passes for a road immediately north of the bridge would be if some mangroves were planted along the lagoon side of it).

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#307199 - 10/28/08 02:38 PM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: Peter Jones]
elbert Offline
Thanks for publishing Patricia Celenza's article on mangroves and their value in your paper Jesse. Awareness and Education are the key to saving the environment.
Amanda is right 25 years is just to get it going. The mangroves along the river at the bridge where hundreds of years old and where protecting the island from some serious erosion we will be suffering for it the rest of our lives on the island.
Assigning a monetary value to reef and mangrove has been going on for the last few years by lots of agencys and by these reckonings Ambergris Caye is a very wealthy island.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#307201 - 10/28/08 02:42 PM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: Peter Jones]
ceb123 Offline
Having just returned from your beautiful island, i feel the need to comment on that vegas by the sea - what a disgrace. it was the first thing i noticed by land and by sea. it was so obvious that the water on the road was TIDAL - and missing were the mangroves. What a shame that so much damage has already been done by removing the mangroves. they MUST be protected or the lovely island we love so much will be destroyed. Read further on the destruction of other islands because of the removal (theft) of the beaches. Mother nature needs protection during these times. If not protected, then lost.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7678379.stm
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,442142,00.html

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#307214 - 10/28/08 03:52 PM Re: Mangroves are worth serious money! [Re: ceb123]
Marty Offline
http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=3125&Itemid=2
Mangroves are worth serious money!
By Patricia Celenza

Belize’s most respected patriot and diplomat, Philip S.W. Goldson stated, “The time to save your country is before you lose it.”

Never were wiser or more prophetic words of advice proffered.

As Belize grows into its own as a maturing independent nation, it faces many critical issues.

One of those issues is the protection of our environment, most particularly, our mangroves.

At an alarmingly rapid rate and on a massive scale, development is not only threatening, but destroying our most precious of natural resources. We have all been informed of the scientific data and research documenting the mangroves as primary protectors and nurturers of our marine ecosystem, from stabilizing shorelines, filtering water, and providing nursery habitat for many varieties of both commercial and reef fish.

The current government of Belize recognized not only the importance of mangroves, but also understood the threat development posed to them when on February 15, of this year, it issued a moratorium on the altering of mangroves. This moratorium overrides all permits.

However, this moratorium, while a very positive move, is only a temporary protection. This moratorium ends on November 15, 2008. So what is the future of our mangroves after this date? Our answer can be found in a recent study of the fishing industry off the western coast of Mexico.

For the very first time, a scientific study has measured the financial consequences of mangrove destruction.

The detailed research of this study puts a real dollar value on the potentially irreparable damage being done to our treasured coastal ecosystems.

In a world where money talks, we now know scientifically, that mangroves mean money.

We have even more reason to protect them.

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in LaJolla, California selected thirteen marine regions with largely natural coastlines around Mexico’s Gulf of California and on Baja California’s lower Pacific Coast, where fishing is a vital source of food and income. The scientists looked at fisheries records and studied catches at these thirteen fishing regions.

During the period of the study, fishermen in all thirteen regions averaged hauls of fish and blue crab for a combined generated income worth U.S. $19 million.

Roughly one third of all the fisheries landings were of fish species which rely on mangroves as a habitat.

The head scientist of this study concluded: “Without a coastal mangrove ecosystem, the cost of food can only increase.”

With the removal of the mangroves, the amount of fish caught is reduced.

With a reduction of food source, people must pay more for that food source.

This economic value reinforces the need for governments to preserve mangroves.

Based on this study, the scientists say that Mexico grossly underestimated the mangroves’ value in land sales aimed at aggressive tourism development and by setting low prices for these coastal regions, put them at high risk of large-scale destruction.

In the past, the Mexican government has sold mangrove areas for around U.S.$1,000 per hectare, but based upon this study, mangrove zones produce fish hauls with a median value of U.S. $37,500 per hectare annually.

The head scientist, looking to the future, continues: “ Governments need to think about a generational value.”

His team estimates that over a thirty year period, the mangroves should be valued at more than U.S.$600,000 per hectare.

As a result of this study, and in an attempt to prevent a repeat of past catastrophes, Mexico enacted a new law outlawing mangrove destruction.

However, the development industry is investing large amounts of money in lobbying the Mexican Congress to overturn the protections.

This report is from the on-line edition of Nature. (http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080721/full/news.2008.966.html)

This study provides Belize with a clear and urgent mission to protect our mangroves.

Mangroves are like children. They require protection, for mangroves cannot protect themselves. They require advocates. Advocates like the government of Belize: the political leaders, government ministers, department heads, and advocates like you and me, the average citizens of Belize.

We need to legislate protections, monitor them, and enforce them. It is time to stop talking about protecting the mangroves. It is time for action.

It is time to legislate that a developer or any purchaser of mangroves be allowed to remove only twenty five percent of those mangroves.

That developer must preserve the remaining seventy five percent. It is not the intent to stop development, but to regulate it.

It is time to seriously monitor developers and enforce this legislation. No more slaps on the wrist when violations occur.

Knowing that our mangroves represent serious money and also are protectors of a delicate ecosystem and the Barrier Reef, penalties must reflect that. Penalties must be swift, stiff and serious: they should be double what they are now.

It will make any developer think twice before bulldozers and dirt trucks bury our mangroves.

This is no time for hesitation, for dallying.

It is a time of urgency.

It is time to listen to and heed our beloved Mr. Goldson: “The time to save your country is before you lose it.”

Top

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