The recover of zones previously degraded by human activity, might take more than a decade
The passage of two hurricanes and late storms during 2020’s hurricane season in the Caribean zone and north Atlantic resulted in heavy damaged to the mangrove’s ecosystem in the Peninsula of Yucatan that might take, in some cases, more than one decade to recover.
According to the Science Doctor from the Universidad de Barcelona, Spain, Jorge Herrera Silveira, the last year this southeast Mexican region suffered one of the most intense seasons in the last 30 years, specially with the passage of both hurricanes Delta and Zeta.
The hit of these hydrometeorological phenomenons left wounds in the natural landscape of that zone, and the damages have been observed as a part of the satellite monitoring of the project Resiliencia de la Biodiversidad Costera al Aumento de Eventos Extremos en América Central (Corescam).
The expert of Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Cinvestav) said that the objective of this project is to have a greater insight in how the mangroves and coral-reefs are answering to extreme climate events, in order to prioritize restoration actions in every region.
With the Fundación BNP Paribas budget it brings together scientists from Nasa, the Instituto Smithsoniano, the Universidad de Carolina del Este and international research colleges and institutions, there are plans to keep going with the monitoring for another two more years.
In the Yucatan’s Peninsula case, he said that after the passage of the hurricanes Delta and Zeta, a photographic record was made with drones of the damages by wind and defoliation in the municipality of Dzilam el Bravo, as well as in flooded areas near Progreso’s port.
Based on this record, he said that the zones with more damage due the hurricanes but are still well preserved could recover in a lapse from 5 to 10 years, unlike those zones that already have a previous impact due to human activity that after a hurricane’s passage require longer periods for their recovering.
He expressed his regret that this damages are additional to the ones that climate change have already provoked, which effects have an estimated loss of up to 30% of the one million hectares of the country’s mangrove in 1970.
Herrera Silveira reminded that Mexico occupies the 4th place around the world in mangrove coverage, and the Peninsula of Yucatan ranks in the first place in the country. This last one has been the most affected area due to the development of works that omit mitigation measures like Pemex in Tabasco and Campeche, the hotel industry in Quintana Roo, or the road construction and housing projects in Yucatán.
In Yucatán’s case there are about 10 thousand acres of mangrove that are downgraded because of roads and harbors, stated the coordinator of the Programa de Caracterización y Monitoreo de los manglares de la Península de Yucatán, de la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Conabio).
Being the author of more than a hundred scientific publications, he explained that the mangroves are networks of trees and shrubs that usually grow in coastal wetlands.
These ecosystems are really precious because they help to prevent the coastal erosion, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and provide a habitat for a lot of fish species and other sea animals.
For achieving a nice recovery of the mangroves it is required a direct intervention which procedures are well known, but resources are needed to start with conservation projects like the one made in Dzilam’s area, which was restored with resources from the Progreso’s Administración Portuaria Integral.
Thanks to the API from Progreso we were able to return to the site, and we strongly believe that we can recover the Dzilam’s area mangrove. Nonetheless, the researcher said that there are still remaining other areas like Chuburná, Celestún, Sisal, Río Lagartos and El Cuyo, where there’s a lot of work to do.
He also said that the mangrove offers a lot of ecosystem benefits to the people, because a lot of commercially valuable aquatic species breed in those wetland areas.
Among other benefits that mangrove provide, he emphasized that due to their spongy sediment it allows that in the rainy season the water that comes from the aquifer is trapped, reducing the flooding impact.
An example of that, he said, is that the reason why the residential areas flooded in the last hurricane season like Progreso, Chicxulub and Chelem was because their mangrove areas have been very affected, just right because of the damage made to those ecosystems.
That’s why, after the last hurricane season this restoration is very important and needed. For this 2021, the researcher is working in projects of conservation with international resources of La Ley de Conservación de Humedales de América del Norte (Nawca) and the Comisión Nacional Forestal (Conafor) for the mangrove’s reforestation in the area of Dzilam, but it is required that the federation, and basically the Secretaría de Hacienda, support these mangroves restoration works in the Yucatán’s Peninsula.