Mangrove forests represent an important resource for the planet and a surprising solution to mitigate the effects of climate change and preserve the balance between ecosystems, thanks to their ability to contribute to the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
These forests, however, are strongly threatened by human interventions: to date, it is estimated that over 67% of the historical mangrove habitat has been lost or degraded worldwide (Source: Global Mangrove Alliance).
The mangrove conservation project in South America, launched by WWF Ecuador in partnership with our brand Rio Mare, Isabel, Cuca and Saupiquet is aimed precisely at protecting this important resource and supporting local fishing communities in Ecuador.
The project will continue up until 2024 with the objective of bringing concrete value to the area in terms of environmental, economic and social sustainability.
THE STRATEGIC ROLE OF BLUE FORESTS
Mangroves, algal forests, and Posidonia oceanica meadows make up the ‘blue forests’, a resource that is still relatively unknown but that has a fundamental role against climate change: these marine and coastal ecosystems are, in fact, able to store up to 9 times more carbon dioxide per hectare than tropical forests.
In addition to contributing to contrast climate change and maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem, they are also able to preserve biodiversity by providing shelter to numerous marine and terrestrial species, filtering water and regulating the flow of nutrients, as well as protecting coastlines from erosion caused in part by rising ocean levels and increasingly frequent storm surges. Due to human interventions, this marine ecosystem has been substantially reduced.
Suspended between land and sea, the mangrove forests are, therefore, a precious treasure for Ecuador, the country that is home to 31% of this marine ecosystem in all of South America. The beating heart is the Gulf of Guayaquil, where 80% of the country’s mangroves are located.
THE CONSERVATION PROJECT
It is precisely in the Gulf of Guayaquil that the conservation program, launched thanks to the collaboration between our brands and WWF, begins. To date, the project already covers 6,089 hectares of mangroves, to which a further 1,000 hectares will be added and placed under protection. This is an impactful project, aimed at protecting and regenerating this natural habitat, while also positively affecting fishing activities and the economy of the native populations.
The preservation of the mangroves, in fact, indirectly supports local Ecuadorian fishing communities, leaning on the fish resources provided by this ecosystem as their main source of income and livelihood.
As a tool, the project plans to use concessions to communities: concessions given by the Ministry of the Environment to local communities which will have, for ten years, the opportunity to base their micro-economy on the protection of mangroves, their sustainable use and the sustainable development of the fishing sector linked to them (mainly ‘ghost crabs’), thus directly benefiting from a better management of this natural heritage.