Subscribe to My Feed

Tell a Friend

  • Polls

    How Is My Site? / ¿Cómo es mi sitio web?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Recent Comments:

  • « | Home | »

    Protecting the Mesoamerican Reef

    By Keith R | July 22, 2007

    Topics: Environmental Protection, Marine/Coastal Issues, Sustainable Agriculture | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

    Another one from the backlog queue! A few hurried notes to myself from the beginning of December, then lost in the holiday shuffle. But the recent posts on the WWF-Coca-Cola freshwater partnership and WWF’s agreements with agricultural producers in Honduras reminded me of this one still lurking in the queue. Hopefully better late than never.

    The Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) released in December its ground-breaking watershed analysis (English, Spanish) for the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR). The report was produced as a contribution to the MAR Project of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) supported by WRI, WWF, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Foundation (UNF), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

    The WRI report is an attempt to quantify the impact of human land-based activities (such as banana, oil palm, sugar cane, citrus and pineapple crop production) on the Reef, so that this information can be used in reforming land-use rules, agricultural policy and practice, setting conservation and coastal management priorities. It looks primarily at sediment and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) runoff and loads, and makes projections for them until 2025 using different land-use scenarios.

    The MAR follows the Caribbean coastline of Mexico and Central America for over 450 miles, and as such is the hemisphere’s longest continuous reef system and one of the world’s largest (reputedly the world’s second largest). It supports nearly 60 species of coral, 350 mollusks, 500 fish species, and among other creatures, Central America’s largest population of manatees.

    Hopefully I do not need to reiterate here the long list of reasons why protecting such reef systems is important. Anyone desiring a refresher on their importance can check my September 2006 post on the subject.

    Key Findings

    The Origin of Sediments/Nutrients Reaching the MAR

    Scenarios Under Different Development and Land-use Paths

    The Report’s Main Conclusions

    Are the Report’s Findings Having an Impact?

    Well, even before the WRI report was published (but with awareness of its principal findings) WWF, an ICRAN member, embarked on an ambitious campaign to change practices in the area and address several of the report’s major recommendations. It has negotiated good agricultural management practice agreements with Honduran producers of sugarcane (Azucarera del Norte, S. A. – AZUNOSA), citrus (Asociación de Citricultores de Sonaguera – ACISON) and palm oil (Palmas de San Alejo and AGROTOR, subsidiaries of the JAREMAR Group). It is seeking similar agreements with pineapple and banana producers.

    In addition, WWF’s recently announced “freshwater partnership” with Coca-Cola includes a fund to address some of these issues in one of the river basins identified by WRI as a large contributor in sediment/nutrient load to the MAR, the Motagua in Guatemala.

    This is a good start, but much more needs to be done, and WWF cannot do it alone.

    — Keith R

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Subscribe to My Comments Feed

    Leave a Reply