The earthquake in 2012 had fatal consequences for the Mangrove forest here in Avellanas, Guanacaste. The tectonic plate rose as much as 1.5 meters (5 feet) in some areas and closed the river mouth that flows through this mangrove forest. To grow and survive, the Mangrove forest needs salt and fresh water. The salt water comes in from the ocean with the tides and the freshwater comes from the rain and the river from inland. In this case, where the river mouth is closed, no sea water enters into the mangroves. The trees stood in the stagnant fresh water, it started poisoning the mangroves and the plants started to die.
A project team opened the river mouth, so that the fresh water could flow into the sea and the sea water could get to the mangrove, but an unusually hot dry season came along. The rivers began to dry out and the mangroves did not have enough water. Many of the plants died during this time.
The mangroves and the wetland are very important for the environment. The roots filter pollutants, like fertilizers and pesticides, out of the water. These substances can be toxic for the organisms out in the ocean. They also protect the coast from storms dampening the effects of wave. For many animals these mangroves and wetlands are important as a nursery. The flooded root system offers good hiding places for the young fish and they are protected there from bigger predators. Birds, insects, reptiles and mammals live as well in this area and create a healthy ecosystem.
Together with the project team from the La Laz Paz Community School we worked on our first day on a mangrove restoration project. Parents, other students and staff members from ConnectOcean and the project team met next to the dead mangroves. After an introduction, where a lot of information was shared, we split up in three different groups. The first team went out to the dead mangroves to plant over 100 seedlings that the to project team had already raised.
The second team went out to the mangroves which are still alive to collect seeds. This team collect around 800 seeds in one hour.
The third team started to prepare pots with mud, so that the seeds could get planted when the second team returns.
We spent the whole morning to collecting seeds, preparing pots and planting the seeds and suspend the seedlings. But all this hard work was definitely worth it.
In the end, 100 seedlings started hopefully to grow up in the area of the dead mangroves and in 6 Months, there will be over 800 more seedlings to transplant. It is a good start with around 900 plants; but the forest will need more time and work until it is restored. This is a great first step in the right direction!.