The annual worth of mangrove ecosystem services worldwide has been estimated at more than $1.6 billion. Such services benefit human populations through climate regulation, water supply availability, erosion control, waste treatment, food production and recreation.
Despite their value, the number of mangrove forests is dwindling at a regional rate of two percent per year in Mexico, as trees are cut to make way for new coastal developments, among other reasons. A report published in 1984 indicated that 23 percent of the mangrove forests near La Paz were eliminated between 1973 and 1981.
The researchers weighed economic, geographic and ecological factors and determined that a hectare (10,000 square meters, or roughly 2.5 acres) of mangrove fringethe edge of mangrove forest in contact with the seain the Gulf of California is on average valued at about $37,500 per year.
Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, lead author of the study, of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, said that although human density is low in the mangrove regions of the Gulf of California, there is increasing pressure to transform mangroves into shrimp farms and coastal developments. He added that the study's end valuation is a low estimate, as the researchers only included fishery value, rather than any potential recreational or ecotourism earnings.
Exequiel Ezcurra, newly appointed adjunct professor with Scripps Oceanography and Provost of the San Diego Natural History Museum, said that coastal development is putting mangroves under growing threats in all the coasts of Mexico and the tropical seas in general. This study is a first interdisciplinary effort to appraise the environmental services provided by mangroves to fisheries, and hopefully will serve to underscore the urgent need for
|Contact: Mario Aguilera|
University of California - San Diego