Officials from the St. Lucia departments of forestry and fisheries, together with Saint Lucia National Trust staff and residents of Vieux Fort and Praslin, recently joined regional experts to establish mangrove nurseries to help replenish the island’s critically threatened wetlands.
The work is an initiative of the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network.
“Some persons in Saint Lucia understand the value of healthy mangroves, while others still regard it as swampland. However, with support from the communities and partners in Vieux Fort and Praslin, there is a sense of hope,” said Alleyne Regis of PCI Media Impact, who is leading the community engagement.
“The activities emphasize community participation so that these persons continue to care for the mangroves beyond the life of the project. The community members will be involved in all aspects of the work, including nursery establishment, seedling collection, planting healthy seedlings back into wetlands and monitoring site conditions,” The Nature Conservancy (TNC) said in a news release.
“Mangroves are one of the most critical trees in the Eastern Caribbean. They provide a breeding ground for fish and protect shorelines from the negative impacts of strong waves and wind,” TNC added.
According to a report by PLOS ONE: “There is great interest in the restoration and conservation of coastal habitats for protection from flooding and erosion. At present, coral reefs are the most expensive to restore for coastal defenses. Despite their high defense effectiveness, very few of the coral reef restoration projects were designed to provide coastal protection. Almost all the mangrove projects had coastal protection as their main objective. Mangroves are cheap to restore and thus provide very cost-effective coastal protection. The researchers compare the costs of restoring a habitat, to the costs of building a breakwater, for specific sites in Asia, Europe and the United States. They find that mangrove restoration projects in Vietnam, cost (on average) $100 less than a breakwater for every meter of coastline. Thus, for a restoration project of just 5 km of the coastline, this translates to a cost-saving of $500,000. The IFRC Vietnam restoration projects – some of the 52 projects analyzed- restored nearly 100 kilometers of dyke lines in the region.”