Plant mangroves ... Save our beach
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Tuesday January 24, 2012

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Plant mangroves ... Save our beach

Left to right: Kisha Itzab, Coqui Rodriguez, Janet Chavez, Gaby Badillo, Marcelo Castillo, Alejandra Arana, Kristy Ancona, Hazel Gutierrez, Wendy Agustin

If you have been living on the island for a while, chances are you are aware of the controversy surrounding the cutting down of mangroves and dredging along coastal areas during large development projects. Often times, it’s because these developments prefer white, clean, sandy beaches or they choose to replace the mangroves with concrete retaining walls. There is one organization on Ambergris Caye that is pushing for a change in this mentality by promoting the planting of mangroves. A little over a year ago Coral Reef Alliance embarked on a mangrove restoration project using the Riley Encased Methodology approach to see if it can be adopted to restore red mangrove on the eastern coast of the island.

According to Valentine Rosado of the Coral Reef Alliance, in December of 2010, they established three pilot sites using Riley’s method. According to Rosado, in one of the three places, all their mangrove propagules have been uprooted from the encasement, but in the other two sites the rate of survival is between 90 to 95percent. “The whole idea is to effectively show how to use Riley’s method and to change people’s perception. We want to get the local residents to integrate mangrove as part of their coast and even as part of their development. One of the important parts of it however is to educate people that it actually works and establish good examples,” explained Rosado.

Environmentalists as well as scientists have claimed that where mangroves have been cleared and replaced by attractive beaches and or concrete sea walls there is rapid beach erosion. This is an environmental problem that continues to be a very serious problem on Ambergris Caye. “We decided to start a campaign to show people that if you remove the mangroves, you lose the beach and if you lose your beach you lose your coast. What’s the sense of having the view of the sea if you don’t have the actual beach? You can put in sea walls but that is a temporary structure that is expensive and leads to erosion. What is good about the mangrove is that it builds the beach; if you do proper landscaping of the mangrove you keep your beach and you keep a beautiful view,” exclaimed Rosado.

Photographs and article by The San Pedro Sun
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