Mangrove nursery

April 2012 GVI Mexico, Pez Maya GVI working on a mangrove nursery in Pez Maya The mangroves of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve are under pressure due to local development of the surrounding coast. GVI Pez Maya has, this month, started a small scale mangrove nursery with the aim of replenishing some of the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) trees in the neighbouring area. The mangrove habitat of the Sian Ka'an, provides a protected sanctuary for birds and serves as a nursery and breeding ground for many aquatic and terrestrial fauna, with intricate root systems providing shelter, and protection from ocean currents and strong winds. Many species that are dependant on the mangrove ecosystem are at risk from extinction including the Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Mangroves are important to many terrestrial and aquatic coastal species, its detritus serving as a nutrient source for planktonic and epiphytic algal food webs, and so supplying the remaining members of the food web with

2. Red mangrove seeds found washed up on the beach are planted in the nursery to grow, before being transplanted into the surrounding mangrove area.

tremendous amounts of nutrients and energy. They also help to stabilise the sandy beaches that are critical for sea turtle nesting. The health of mangroves affects the health of other economically and biologically important ecosystems that are linked to it, including the Mesoamerican barrier reef and surrounding sea grass beds. Destruction of mangrove forests is occurring globally, and the fundamental reason appears to be due to human activity. Here on the Yucatan Peninsula development for tourism is a major factor in the destruction of mangrove forest, where space must be cleared for new resorts. Mangrove wood is also harvested at a local level for building material, fencing and it also yields valuable, high-quality charcoal. Often poor land-use and waste management techniques means pollution is washed into the coastal habitat. It had been noticed that many R. mangle propagules were being washed up onto the beach at Pez Maya, where they are then dried by the sun and have no way of rooting in suitable substrate. The mangrove nursery has been set up to give them a chance to grow to a suitable size to be successfully transplanted into the surrounding mangrove area, and the conditions of the nursery are such that they will be slowly acclimatised to salinity levels at their terminal location. Even though the project is still at an early stage, the seedlings that were planted at the beginning of the month have shown growth, with an average growth rate of 3cm over 3 weeks. We are optimistic that the seedlings will continue to grow, and aim to transplant them within the next month. According to a recent study done in the Sian Ka’an by the National Comission of Natural Protected Areas, the mangroves system is still in good condition, therefore it is important to monitor the structure of the wetlands to detect changes in time and to restore the areas that have been modified or that are under stress1.
1 Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas. 2012. Determinación de la estructura y existencias de carbono en manglares de la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sian Ka’an

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful