Mangroves could save Guyana’s shrinking coastline

Mangroves_in_Puerto_Rico

Desmond Brown writes about Guyana’s shrinking coastline and the importance of preserving the mangroves, especially in the context of global warning and climate change.

[. . .] [C]hief executive officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Dr. Oudho Homenauth, warns that climate change is robbing Guyana of some of its prime agricultural land.

Homenauth explained that “the land will have to be left for over a period of time until that salinity is lost” and as the authorities move to protect the agricultural land and also its population, most of whom live along the coasts, Homenauth told IPS that Guyana has come to recognise the importance of mangroves, especially for coastal areas. He said the country has been on an intensive campaign to protect and restore its coastal mangroves.

Approximately 90 percent of Guyana’s population lives on a narrow coastline strip a half to one metre below sea level. That coastal belt is protected by seawall barriers that have existed since the Dutch occupation of the country. In recent times, however, severe storms have toppled these defences, resulting in significant flooding, a danger scientists predict may become more frequent.

“Everybody knows Guyana’s seawall, the famous seawall, which is an expensive structure to maintain and to continue to build, particularly as sea level rises,” Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy told IPS.

He said that maintaining the seawalls is an enormous cost for Guyana, which has been spending an average of three billion dollars a year to maintain and strengthen the defences.

“But in order to ensure that the seawall and sea dams continue to serve us well and to be less vulnerable to the onslaught of the ocean, we have been protecting and promoting the growth of mangroves and other structures such as geotextile tubes to reduce the impact of the waves coming in,” Ramsammy said.

“We’ve been doing bamboo growth along the seawalls to reduce the impact of the waves coming in. So a number of different structures are being tried but mangroves represent a major response of the Guyana government in supporting the seawall and therefore reducing the impact of water hitting against the wall, against the dams etc.”

Guyana has about 80,000 hectares of mangroves in place right now and over the last three or four years, the country has been “accelerating the growth of mangroves,” many of which were lost 20 to 30 years ago. [. . .]

We lost some of our mangroves and we are restoring those mangroves now. But we are also establishing mangrove growth in places that we’ve never been to,” Ramsammy said, noting that “with the water and movement onto the shore, it is very difficult to grow mangroves.” As a result, Guyana has been conducting research to determine the best technology to use to achieve success.

“You need mangroves to grow to a certain extent before it can withstand the water and so we’ve been trying things like various grasses and so on to hold the soil together and we have been succeeding in these,” Ramsammy told IPS.

For full article, see http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2014/5/2014_05_15_ips_guyana_mangroves.html

Photo of mangrove from http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/mangroves-could-survive-sea-level-rise-if-protected

4 thoughts on “Mangroves could save Guyana’s shrinking coastline

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