What's A Swamp Worth? If It's A Mexican Mangrove, US$37,500 per Hectare per Year


photo: Matthew McDermott

We've written a number of times about the importance of wetlands in sequestering carbon, preserving biodiversity, and preventing natural disaster. Now researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have put a dollar value on the ecosystem services provided by one type of wetland, Mexican mangrove forest. The figure? US$37,500 per hectare per year.
Their new research published in the Proceedings on the National Academy of Sciences shows that there is a direct relationship between the health of Mexican mangroves and that of the local fishing industry and local economy. Studying the fishing records of four Mexican States for the years 2001-2005, researchers found that fish landings increased with total area of mangrove fringe. Such areas are important feeding and nursing grounds for many varieties of commercially important fish.

Mangrove Conservation and Reconstruction Costly but Vital
Mangroves in the regions studied—Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Sonora—are disappearing at the rate of 2% per year. Researchers say that reestablishing lost areas of mangrove will be expensive but financially worthwhile, "To recover a mangrove ecosystem takes hundreds of years. It is very expensive, but the costs of its loss are several orders of magnitude greater."

According to official Mexican figures there are currently about 800,000 hectares of mangroves in the country, of which 10,000 are destroyed each year by development.

The Mexican government gets paid a mere $1020 per hectare by developers when they destroy a portion on mangrove forest.

via :: ENN, :: National Geographic News, :: ISP News
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Tags: Biodiversity | Ecology | Mexico

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