By Makeida Antonio
The replanting of mangrove wetlands will be on the National Parks Authority’s agenda for 2022, along with public awareness and education.
Speaking during yesterday’s observance of World Wetlands Day – held under the theme ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’ – marine biologist Ruleo Camacho said plans have been made to restore mangroves in areas where they have either been destroyed or compromised over the years.
“One of our priorities on our work plans for this year is to start to do some replanting exercises again at these different spots where we have identified that it has been removed in the past or we’ve seen some major threats and we’re hoping to start to get some replanting done in those areas so we can reconnect the ecosystem and ensure that it is providing the best services that they can,” Camacho told the Observer AM show.
He believes that many residents are oblivious to the extent of damage sustained by wetlands as balancing development with conservation has not been a priority.
Camacho disclosed that a recent study carried out on the country’s national parks revealed about 27 percent of mangrove loss between 1950 and 2019. He called the loss “staggering” as he considered that period to be a short time.
“We calculated it was lost by looking at historical aerial photos taken by the US Army mapping what wetlands were there then, and using drone mapping in 2019 and 2020, and then seeing how much we lost over that period of time,” Camacho explained.
Additionally, Camacho commented on the likelihood of mangroves being destroyed in the process of construction for various developments.
He said the Authority has mechanisms in place to monitor and track existing mangroves as part of its efforts to protect wetlands.
“There’s always that concern that people want to develop there. It’s something that we have been keeping a very close eye on, especially since we’ve done updated mapping exercises where we know exactly where a mangrove is at a particular point, and we can monitor if there are any changes at all,” Camacho said.
He also noted the economic contributions made by wetlands annually, underscoring their significance.
“On the global level, wetlands make around seven trillion US a year. To break that down, per hectare per year is worth between 33,000 and 55,000 [dollars]. From an economic standpoint they are immensely important,” Camacho added.