Meet the ‘Mangrove restorers’, residents of Dzilam de Bravo who help reforestation

In the community they seek to protect the natural barrier of the coastal zone. Photo: (La jornada maya)

Special: International Mangrove Day

Dzilam de Bravo, Yucatán, (July 26, 2021).- Don Manuel González Salas still remembers that more than 19 years ago there was great mangrove vegetation on the coast of his native Dzilam de Bravo, Yucatán; but these images have faded little by little, with the passage of time.

He shows how the mangrove and some vegetation have grown, thanks to his work and that of 15 colleagues during these years, with which they have been able to contribute to the reforestation of more than one thousand hectares. He feels proud of these actions and hopes to see more recovered areas soon.

He is part of ‘Los Restauradores del Mangle‘ (Mangrove Restorers), a group that has dedicated itself to the reforestation and rescue of mangroves in the coastal zone; which recognizes the importance of this ecosystem: that it serves as a barrier against hurricanes and meteorological phenomena; however, due to road construction, illegal logging, many hectares of mangroves have been degraded. Last year they suffered one of the worst floods in their community. Something they hadn’t seen in years.

Photo: (La jornada maya)

On July 16, the Ecological Restoration of Mangroves on the north coast of Yucatán, Dzilam de Bravo Region, started, promoted by Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán AC (PPY), Cinvestav, and Los Restauradores de Dzilam de Bravo , with which it is intended to reforest, in two years, more than 200 hectares in this area and thus recover this vitally important ecosystem for the coast. 

After Hurricane Isidoro, which hit Yucatán in 2002, devastated much of the mangrove, residents of Dzilam de Bravo decided to unite to restore this vital ecosystem. With their shovels, they created channels and opened the flow of water. For years they have linked with environmental organizations and authorities to contribute to the restitution of their mangroves. 

They have worked, together with Jorge Herrera Silveira, a researcher at Cinvestav, Mérida, the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), as well as state and federal authorities to recover the vegetation. Besides earning an extra income, his main objective is the conservation of the environment.

Don Manuel does not know about scientific terms, but his contact with nature over the years, and the knowledge of his ancestors, have shown him the importance of these barriers for the community, and for fishing. 

González Salas has seen how the absence of mangroves has caused great damage to the environment. Through the years, and from the teachings of his ancestors, he knows that mangroves are sponges that absorb water and are barriers that prevent hurricanes and storms from seriously impacting the port.

“The mangrove for us is a barrier against hurricanes, and many things, besides that it provides us with many fish that go out to the sea to finish growing”; projection. 

Photo: (La jornada maya)

However, he has seen that each year the floods are more terrible; Last year, due to the rains that Cristóbal and other hurricanes brought, his house was flooded, despite being in an upper area: the water came “up to here”, he says while pointing to the lower part of his hips; the floor rose and other houses were flooded more.

The restorer also indicated that on the coast there is a lot of mangrove predation, people who come and illegally cut down the plants and wood and take them to sell or build their palapas. 

“People need to be aware of the importance of mangroves. I have told everybody in Dzilam de Bravo that we must make people aware of the mangrove, but there are people who do not understand it or do not want to, but in the end, those affected are the whole community, the fish, the flora and the fauna” he said. 

Source: La Jornada Maya

The Yucatan Times Newsroom



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