Findings of a study into some of the country’s ecologically critical wetlands were released yesterday to coincide with annual World Wetlands Day.
The study was commissioned by the National Parks Authority in partnership with the Department of the Environment and the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG). It examined the wetlands throughout the park which are largely covered by several species of mangrove. These include the red, black, white and buttonwood mangrove.
World Wetlands Day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of wetland ecosystems as a source of freshwater which is becoming increasingly limited across the globe.
Mangrove wetlands play crucial roles in supporting ecosystems such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, protecting coastlines, supporting local livelihoods and ecotourism activities, and providing habitats and nurseries for coastal marine organisms.
The National Park study will achieve a better understanding of the ecological, spatial distribution and threats of mangrove wetlands. It will also guide the future monitoring and management of these ecosystems throughout the park.
Among their major threats are illegal dumping, backfilling and termites, which attack the red and black mangroves in particular.
The research however uncovered the obvious presence of mangrove seedlings at all areas under study, raising hope for strong recovery potential and possible source stock for mangrove restoration activities.
Research and document preparation were carried out by the authority’s marine ecologist Ruleo Camacho and the EAG’s wildlife officer Britney Hay.
Globally, mangroves are estimated to be worth between US$33,000 and $57,000 per hectare per year in terms of the services they provide.
Mangrove wetlands cover 260,850m² of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. The authority surveyed almost 80 percent of those to better understand their ecological and spatial distribution and threats.
The survey was the first in-situ assessment of the mangrove wetlands within the park.
Visit https://www.nationalparksantigua.com/eco-wetlands/ for more information.