A multi-actor alliance to reduce the risks of cascading hazards in Sian Ka'an.

Published: 01 December 2016
Last edited: 27 March 2019
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In the face of climate-related challenges, and various socioeconomic pressures in Sian Ka'an, CONANP has created an innovative multi-actor alliance to increase local adaptive capacity through an EbA strategy based on mangrove rehabilitation & income diversification. A key step was to engage farmers using targeted public financial mechanisms. CONANP has supported the fishing sector to diversify its productive activities. The academia has also played a prominent role in planning, and regulation.


North America
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Gender mainstreaming
Outreach & communications
Protected area governance
Sustainable livelihoods
Erratic rainfall
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Lack of access to long-term funding
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Sian Ka'an, Mexico


The maintenance of long term funding is a great challenge, if all the activities related to the rehabilitation, vigilance and monitoring of the mangroves ecosystem are to continue. Investment in staff, infrastructure and technical equipment is indispensable. To ensure that a balance between tourist activities, local livelihoods and ecosystem conservation is maintained well into the future, it is necessary to be continually communicating with, involving, and providing technical and moral support to local communities both inside and around the Sian Ka’an reserve. Rehabilitating the mangroves is not done cheaply nor quickly. One does not move machinery in and out of mangroves, nor carry rubbish out, easily. A lot of planning and resources are needed. In addition, studies are essential to be able to aid the identification of efficient rehabilitation actions.


Local fishing communities. Local agricultural communities. Local women. Visitors.


1) Local mangroves have started to be rehabilitated providing added protection to the local area against storm hazards. 2) As a result, local lobsters now count with a larger area of habitat to support their early developmental stages, thus increasing their own capacity to adapt to storm hazards. 3) Lobster fishermen have increased their adaptive capacity by being supported to diversify their livelihoods into providing sport-fishing opportunities for local tourists, not just selling lobsters to local and regional hotels. 4) Local farmers have increased their awareness about the importance of mangroves to local ecosystem health and resilience, and the farmers’ economic capacity to adapt to climate-change induced reduction in precipitation have been boosted by being involved in the payments for ecosystem services programme related to mangrove rehabilitation.


The Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Mexico. It is inhabited by fishing and agricultural communities. The reserve is constantly under the pressure from touristic and real estate development activities. Maintaining the geographical integrity of the reserve, and thus the benefits to locals and visitors alike, is a long-term challenge that CONANP and other partner organizations are dedicated to addressing. In terms of climate hazards, both ecosystems and local communities face cascading risks. An example is the increasing strength of tropical storms that, apart from causing damage to property and people, is causing the erosion of sand banks, which in turn damages some of the habitats necessary for lobster lifecycles. Ecosystem services provided by mangroves in the area have been weakened due to previous storms, infrastructure development and by problems of salinisation. Reducing this cascade of risks, has required innovative alliances across multiple sectors. CONANP has collaborated closely with local civil society and academia.They have created an evidence-based strategy for reducing the salinity of the mangrove system by building channels under the road that reconnected freshwater-saltwater fluxes. This was only the first step in rehabilitating the mangroves. CONANP has also promoted natural regrowth. It has built “tarquinas” – little islands of sediment entrapped in netting – that permit the growth of new mangrove trees. Corridors were then excavated to augment the natural flow of nutrients and water between the existing parts of the mangrove system. Rubbish collecting has also been carried out. Reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity has been pivotal in these efforts. CONANP employed agricultural communities to support the rehabilitation activities in the mangroves. This supports their economic wellbeing and contributes to increase their resilience to climate-change induced precipitation and harvest losses. It also reduces the pressure of extractive activities on local resources that would otherwise have occurred as a result of communities’ attempts to counter losses in harvests. For the fishing communities, CONANP supported the diversification of activities to increase their capacity to adapt to the potential reduction of lobster populations. Training, certification and mentoring has been provided. Local women are being organized and trained to manage eco-tourism businesses.

Contributed by

CONANP Mexico National Commission of Natural Protected Areas

Other contributors

National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, CONANP