Restoration of mangroves for food security in the Gancho Murillo coastal State Reserve Chiapas, Mexico.

IUCN @ Paul Aragón
Published: 02 May 2019
Last edited: 05 July 2019
remove_red_eye 349 Views

Summary

 In order to reduce the vulnerability to climate change of communities on the coast of the State of Chiapas, ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) measures were implemented with the communities of Ejido* Conquista Campesina, located in the Gancho Murillo Zone Subject to Ecological Conservation (state reserve).

The measures were designed to raise awareness about the value of mangroves and improve their condition through restoration actions. The clearance of water channels, allowed water to flow and increase the overall fishing area, benefiting communities’ social resilience and food security. The work with the fishing communities involved an "action learning" approach, which allowed the community to actively participate, take ownership of EbA measures and assess effectiveness in protecting local livelihoods. This in turn strengthened the communities social cohesion, local governance, institutional relationships, and leaders’ advocacy capacity.

 

*Ejido: land-tenure communal structure in Mexico

Classifications

Region
North America
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Estuary
Mangrove
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Theme
Adaptation
Fisheries and aquaculture
Food security
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Restoration
Science and research
Other theme
Ecosystem services
Sustainable livelihoods
Sustainable development goals
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge

Location

Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico

Challenges

  • Deforestation in the upper watershed of the Cahoacán River generates erosion and decreases the soil’s water infiltration capacity, which combined with changes in rainfall patterns and intensity, increases runoff and sediment deposition into downstream coastal ecoystems.
  • Conquista Campesina has 828 ha of common lands that include mangrove ecosystems, which are at risk due to the high rate of deforestation (resulting from the expansion of the agricultural frontier and illegal logging), as well as excessive sedimentation (siltation). This sedimentation not only harms the mangroves, but also contributes to the frequent flooding of villages.
  • The advancement of saline waters due to rising costal water intrusion that enter the wetland generates an ecological imbalance that affects the mangrove’s natural regeneration and reduces water quality for human consumption.
  • The ejidal assembly’s representation bodies and leaders require greater capacity for political advocacy before government entities.

Beneficiaries

  • Direct: 420 inhabitants of the ejido Conquista Campesina, with 33 community members trained in mangrove restoration and monitoring
  • Indirect: 3 surrounding communities (ejidos Barra de Cahoacán, Brisas del Mar and La Cigüeña)
  • Municipality of Tapachula

How do the building blocks interact?

This solution for a coastal ejido in Chiapas is presented through 3 Building Blocks (BB): 1. Action learning, 2. Socio-environmental resilience, and 3. Governance.

The implementation of EbA measures (BB2) and governance for adaptation (BB3) are achieved by mobilizing the support of community structures under a "learning by doing" approach (BB1) that combines training, field actions (restoration, surveillance, productive diversification), participation, monitoring and valuing of mangrove ecosystem services. Restoration actions improve conservation state of mangrove ecosystems, with direct results for local livelihoods (fishing, collecting) and ecossystem based disaster risk reduction. The restoration has proofen to increase resiliency to climate variability and decreases food insecurity is observed. At the community level, a process of collective learning and empowerment ensues, with the acquisition of technical knowledge, leading to progress in the ejido’s governance and its capacity for political advocacy, up-scaling and accessing financial resources, and the strengthening its adaptive capacity. Contributions are also made to good governance of the coastal zone by creating cooperation between local, state and federal agencies.

Impacts

  • Greater knowledge regarding the restoration and sustainable management of mangroves.
  • Restoration of 25 ha since 2011
  • Reforestation of 4.1 ha of mangroves
  • Prevention of illegal logging through surveillance
  • Recovery and clearance of the mangrove’s hydrological system through the clearance of 180m of water channels allowed the water to flow better along the estuary, benefiting the entrance of sea water and the reproduction of scale fish, shrimp and other species.
  • Sustainability of actions thought local decision-making to increase efforts in the area.
  • Economic benefits through forestry incentives, using the modality of “payments for laboured days” linked to restoration efforts.
  • Research on the benefits of EbA for food security using a Monitoring and Evaluation methodology with local families.
  • Policy advocacy with the presentation at the state level of the ejido* Conquista Campesina’s EbA priorities and vulnerability study.

Note: Within Chiapas governance structures, the Ejido is the main social platform where participatory decisions are made regarding natural resources. Ejido land tenure in Mexico is an example of individual and communal tenure co-existing within communities. Communal lands are titled in the name of the community leaders.

Story

IUCN @ Paul Aragón

The coastal ejido Conquista Campesina is one of nine ejidos present in Gancho Murillo State reserve (area of ecological conservation), where there are still 7,284 ha of mangrove left (compared to ~132,000 ha in State of Chiapas). Despite being under protection, the area is densely populated with ranches, communities and fisheries. The most common livelihoods are fishing and timber extraction, which is especially important for families' food security.

 

Mangrove ecosystems are at risk due to several factors. High deforestation rates in Cahoacán River basin that supplies water to the coastal Conquista Campesina and its mangroves, and the effects of climatic variability, in particular excessive rainfall that increases runoff and sediment deposition downstream of the basin. Additionaly, increasing sedimentation contributes to frequent flooding of communities, while coastal storm surges also put homes and fishing areas at risk. Increasing salinization of water wells due to increasing frequency of storms and other coastal hazards, which are securing water provision for coastal communities, is also an issue.

 

The health and regeneration of mangroves to protect coastal communities was a key aspect in finding solutions to this set of challenges. As an EbA measure, communities of Conquista Campesina supported healthier mangroves that would provide food, livelihoods, protection against hurricanes and refuge for fishing species. Initiating the mangrove restoration project in the ejido, which ultimately brought, beside climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, various economic, social and environmental benefits to the population of Conquista Campesina, and to some extent to neighbouring ejidos as well.

 

Mr. Cándido González Nafaté, technical community member of Conquista Campesina ejido, mentions the importance of promoting the strengthening of the ejido’s social organization and territorial governance when defining adaptation measures (mangrove restoration), and values aspects of participation, responsibility, transparency, efficiency and inclusiveness. In order to reduce the enormous pressure that natural resources face in the area, he proposes the creation of conditions to assist owners of forest lands upstreaM to undertake value-addition processes on their raw materials, recalling that these owners are also from highly marginalized communities in the basin.

Contributed by

Marta Pérez de Madrid

Other contributors

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)