Laguna San Ignacio
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Enhancing coastal resilience by planting and protecting mangrove ecosystems.
Laguna San Ignacio is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s last undeveloped California gray whale breeding lagoon. It is located within El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, a 6.2 million acres natural protected area.
Mangroves play a significant role in the region’s local economy, provide nursery and feeding grounds for commercially important fisheries and other wildlife, and buffer coastal communities against storm surge and sea level rise.
Together, SeaTrees and WILDCOAST have begun the process of planting 100,000 mangrove trees across 25 acres of mangrove habitat in collaboration with the “Mujeres de El Dátil." This group of women are from the local area and have witnessed the degredation of this critical habitat first hand, and are now helping us restore the mangrove forest in the protected waters of Laguna San Ignacio.
Most families in the Laguna San Ignacio area depend on ecosystem services provided by mangrove forests like fisheries. El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve is home to certified sustainable fisheries of great economic value.
The communities of the lagoon are active fishing cooperatives, whale watching outfitters, and small-scale ranching. Climate change and its increasingly intense tropical storms and sea level rise pose emerging threats to this region.
WILDCOAST works with two local communities in Laguna San Ignacio to restore its mangrove forests. We have partnered with the “Mujeres de El Dátil,” who were trained in 2019 by WILDCOAST on mangroves environmental services, seedlings collection and planting techniques, as well as monitoring and maintenance of restored sites.
SeaTrees has partnered with WILDCOAST, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 that focuses on conserving coastal and marine ecosystems and addressing climate change with natural solutions.
A Fragile Ecosystem
Climate change is already affecting Laguna San Ignacio ecosystems and communities. Sea level rise, along with the high tides present in Laguna San Ignacio, intensified currents in estuaries that, in turn, generated erosion of the main channels.
Without the first protection barrier that red mangroves offer, there is a risk for greater habitat loss.
This project provides living-wage employment and training opportunities for the local community, empowers gender equity, protects the area from increased climate change impacts, and safeguards critical habitats for several vulnerable species.
Red mangroves help form a barrier between strong currents and other environmental factors, helping the establishment of other mangrove species behind it. The seedling planting design in Laguna San Ignacio is based on the principle of patches. This methodology has proven to be successful to retain sediment, resulting in better protection for the seedlings. Over time, this system favors colonization of other species such as Laguncularia racemosa and creates less competition for light and space.