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Published on Wednesday, September 9, 2021
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This week, the project for the recovery and rehabilitation of up to 300 hectares of the Estero Puntarenas Wetland will begin, according to the National System of Conservation Areas, SINAC.

The restoration of these ecosystems will be based on the results of technical studies carried out over 18 months by specialists from SINAC and other public institutions. The works will be developed by more than 20 experts in environmental sciences.

The study was carried out to define the ecological rehabilitation works of the mangroves in the area, analyze the topography of the land, investigate the flood patterns, composition and structure of the mangroves, among others.

The study was key to determining what causes degradation and eventual death of the mangrove. SINAC wants to know the reason for no natural regeneration, and to define specific restoration actions.

“Due to its great magnitude, this innovative project for the rehabilitation of an ecosystem of importance for the adaptation and mitigation of climate change represents a historical action in terms of how to design and develop the ecological restoration of mangroves in the country and throughout the Central America region,” scientist Miguel Cifuentes said.

As part of the improvement works in the wetland areas, new canals will be reopened, the edges of natural canals cleaned, the leveling of land and the removal of dead plant material, among others.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is about five times as long as the Caribbean coast due to a complex structure of many embayments, estuaries and gulfs.

The mangrove forests of this coast make up 99% of all of Costa Rica's mangrove area, including: the Nicoya Gulf in the Tivives Protection Zone and the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Forest Reserve. The latter is the largest mangrove forest in the country.

On the Atlantic coast small patches of mangroves are found in the northeast Chirripó River and north of Limón. The mangroves located in the south are not highly developed structurally as they have a canopy height of only about 20 meters due to the low rainfall and a long dry season from December to April.

South of the Nicoya Gulf, there is a transition zone where the forests are more diverse and better developed. They have trees reaching a height of 45 meters as a result of higher rainfall and a shorter dry season lasting usually less than three months.

Some of the species present in this country are: Avicennia bicolor, Laguncularia racemosa, Pelliciera rhizophorae and Rhizophora racemosa.

According to FAO, the population explosion that started in the country in the early forties had a negative impact on the conservation of natural resources.

"The impact of the demographic growth did not spare mangroves: the ecosystem was quickly affected by substitute activities or the procurement of forest products such as tannin (especially of Rhizophora bark), charcoal, construction material, etc," the FAO said in its statements. "Mangroves land has been drained and converted, particularly in the Nicoya Gulf, to rice fields, salt ponds for agriculture purposes and, more recently, to shrimp farm purposes."

The collection of Anadara tuberculosa and Anadara similis from mangroves is one of the main activities among the procurement of non-wood products, said the organization.

In 1996, the government launched an environmentally friendly action at the end of the 19th century to protect the Costa Rican mangroves. This resulted in Law No.7575 on Forests, which restricts felling and harvesting in mangroves areas.

What should authorities do to protect mangroves from climate change? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com

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