Ecuador will serve as a model for countries such as Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia. This fragile ecosystem is constituted as protection against climatic events. Since 1994, mangroves have been protected in Ecuador.
They are recognized as a prohibited species to cut down because of the serious impact it causes on the ecosystem. The 2008 Constitution ratifies it as a fragile ecosystem and orders the State its permanent protection.
Today marks the International Mangrove Day, the celebration was born as a request made by Ecuador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
How many hectares of mangrove are conserved in protected areas?
The country has 161,835 mangrove hectares of which 72,523, that is, 45% are within protected areas and 68,000, which represent 60% are within various conservation mechanisms such as custody areas with fishermen in Guayaquil, Manabí and El Oro. The rest is outside both but that is still protected by the State.
How many mangrove areas have been reforested?
From 2008 to date, 3,000 hectares were reforested, representing $ 2’000,000 in investment in the reforestation project. In 2014, there was a State project to regularize the shrimp farms, which involved reforestation compensation for irregular activities. They were mangroves that had been cleared since the year 99.
There were companies that settled after that date and had to pay the difference.
Where is reforestation concentrated?
Throughout the country, but the largest number is in the Gulf of Guayaquil. In the area of Puná Island, in Jambelí, Balao and Naranjal.
Why is it important to protect the mangrove?
It is state heritage. There are 10,000 fishermen who extract resources for their food and as a productive activity. Mangroves are the repositories of the majority of shellfish that we consume. In addition, mangroves fulfill protection functions against climatic events, the tide, aguaje, tsunamis, store seven times more carbon dioxide than tropical forests.
What are the main threats to the ecosystem?
The most vulnerable are the expansion of shrimp activity and overfishing in these sectors.
How many complaints for mangrove felling of the year?
There are 20 cases on average. Because there is a lot of pressure due to the boom in the shrimp sector. The custodians help us to report this type of case. It is due to the expansion of the pools and 5% due to urban growth. The sanctions are carried out by the provincial directorates and the Public Prosecutor’s Office when dealing with the cutting of mangroves.
Per hectare, the fine is set at $ 89,000. The one who does the damage has to pay the State. In addition to this they have to restore the destruction of the affected area. In some cases there may be damages to third parties and they must also compensate them and go to jail, there are already sanctions processes. These funds are used to subsequently restore the area.
What has improved for mangrove protection?
In the new Organic Environmental Code, a Fund is established for the sanctions for felling, which will then be invested in the restoration of this ecosystem, which means that every fine goes to the Fund to invest it in the resource. It will start running from August. Before it was given but indirectly.
Current regulations require that if you cut down, in that same place you must reforest in an integral way and repair the ecosystem. Before, it was necessary to wait 20 years to recover this species. In 2018 the policy and regulations were improved. Now there are instruments for immediate application.
What is the investment of the MAE for the protection and reforestation of the mangrove?
We invest around $ 1 million per year in various actions, which are reinforced with campaigns. In addition, the communities generate support and self-management with their own funds for control.
Precisely, that is one of the strengths of those who guard the mangrove. We also have international cooperation with the participation of NGOs and the Socio Manglar program. This gives an incentive to associations that have an agreement of use and custody that is $ 500,000 per year.
What projects do you have to improve conservation?
We have two. The first is Marino Costero with an investment of $ 4 million and has two years since its implementation. The other started this year, is the Network of Protected Marine Coastal Areas, which is focused on the reserves that mangroves have. Its financing exceeds $ 5 million. In the country there are 19 coastal marine protected areas. Half of them have these trees.
What is the agenda for Mangrove Day?
There are local and two international activities. Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia take Ecuador as a model to carry out actions in mangrove care. In addition, Peru is interested in replicating the applied policy. With them we work to protect the specimens of this one that exists in Tumbes and Huaquillas. (I)