Mangroves are under constant threat from development, leading to a decline in mangrove cover and subsequently impacting the manatee population. Mangroves are not only vital for marine biodiversity but also hold economic significance, contributing to carbon sequestration and supporting the blue economy. Efforts are being made to protect and restore mangroves, but striking a balance between development and conservation remains a challenge. The nation recognizes the importance of coastal ecosystems in the face of climate change, and there is an ongoing focus on preserving mangroves for their multiple benefits in mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
According to an Action Plan by the Belize Mangrove Alliance, a chapter of the Global Mangroves Alliance which is primarily comprised of environmental NGOs, in 2019, approximately 12,800 ha of mangrove were under protection—only 16.6% of the total mangrove coverage in Belize.
Considering the high value and importance placed on this ecosystem, and the increasing pressures it faces, there is a recognized need to increase focus on ensuring its long-term viability. This is especially true as Belize begins to focus on boosting its Blue Economy. Andre Perez is the Minister of Blue Economy. According to the United Nations, the Blue Economy comprises a range of economic sectors and related policies that together determine whether the use of ocean resources is sustainable.”
Mangroves are important to the blue economy and the ministry says mangroves play a vital role by serving as critical fish nurseries, supporting tourism, and providing coastal protection. And there is wealth untold, hundreds of millions of dollars possibly from a climate perspective, as mangroves contribute to carbon sequestration.
The following is an extended news feature produced by Hipolito Novelo for Belize's News 5.
This story was produced with support from Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was first broadcast by News 5 on July 12, 2023.
Banner image: Mangroves in Belize / Credit: Hipolito Novelo/News 5