It's easy to overlook the seemingly nondescript mangrove tree that often line the land found between the sea and the coastline. These trees don't grow edible fruits or nuts, nor are they ideal for shade or breeze, but what they do have to offer far surpasses all of the above qualities.
Mangroves are a vital component of the island ecosystem providing structure to the island, while preventing erosion. They are the guardians of our precious coastline and avoid millions of dollars damages from frequent storms. Moreover, mangroves provide a habitat for many different species of animals, including bats, lobsters, manatees, juvenile fish and birds. The roots and branches of mangroves provide an ideal site for animals to feed, mate, and give birth.
Despite of their significant importance mangroves are experiencing a major threat: clearance! This apparent trend is increasing in Belize especially here in San Pedro as a result of high demand in coastal settlements and developments.
As part of their Conservation of the Reef course, students of San Pedro Junior College are embarking on a mangrove restoration pilot project intended to serve as an initiative to raise awareness on the importance of mangrove ecosystems on our environment.
In order to accomplish their objective more efficiently, the group is joining forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to conduct this pilot project for future mangrove projects and at the same time participating in the first ever "Mangrove-Friendly Shoreline Development Chanllenge".
Along with the help of Mr. & Mrs. Bob Mc Lean, the SPJC group hopes to make their project a successful one as they provided the group with the perfect location in front of their beach front residences at Tres Cocos to implement their projects using methods of growing the small mangrove trees in pipes as the method was also used in the project of mangrove restoration in the coastlines of Florida in the U.S. If the project is a successful one the World Wildlife Fund hopes to implement even a bigger project to restore mangrove around the needed areas on the island.
Group members included: Sherie Ann Pou, Erica Molina, Bertha Calderon, Alison Banner, Olivia Gilleth, and Jameli Hob. Project was embarked this past Sunday, April 19, 2009.