For the real protection of mangroves

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Mangroves around the world are suffering from alarming levels of destruction, often as a result of industrial shrimp farming, but also due to other predatory activities such as oil drilling.

And this is why, around the world, communities and organizations are fighting to stop this destruction. One example is the “Mangroves Yes! Shrimp Farms No!” campaign spearheaded by the Redmanglar Internacional network to oppose the destructive activities of companies that establish industrial shrimp farms in the mangrove regions of tropical countries to supply the markets of industrialized countries.

There is also an urgent need for the restoration and reforestation of mangroves that have already been destroyed. This is of paramount importance for the survival of mangroves and the continuity of their essential ecological functions, as well as the survival of the thousands of communities who depend on these unique and resource-rich ecosystems.

However, there are different approaches to this goal. One of the articles in this bulletin, for example, looks at the mercantile approach being promoted by the French transnational group Danone for the supposed reforestation of mangroves. The group’s motivation is the possibility of purchasing carbon offsets through the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), on the grounds that mangroves have enormous capacity for storing carbon. Danone claims that it is contributing to combating the climate crisis and benefiting local communities, while hiding the fact that thanks to the offsets acquired, it will be able to continue polluting and producing carbon emissions. And all at a relatively low cost, since the supposed “abundance” of carbon in mangroves would serve to decrease the value of the offsets generated.

There is another approach to mangrove restoration, one that involves no commercial interests, but rather a process that is effectively controlled and carried out by the communities that have always lived with and from the mangroves, without the need to destroy them. Instead of corporations and consulting firms calculating carbon credits, this process requires supporters and researchers committed to working with these communities so that together they can design and implement different means of restoration, in accordance with each individual situation and region.

This approach is closer to the interpretation of “green economy” advocated by the South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN), who declare in this bulletin: “Sharing our vital resources equitably and using them sustainably for livelihoods and basic needs is at the heart of our concept of a green economy.”

In this regard, guaranteeing the survival of the world’s mangroves means radically changing the currently dominant and unequal model of production and consumption, beginning with drastically reducing the exploitation of natural resources and fossil fuels, and in the specific case of mangroves, prohibiting the industrial production of shrimp.

This would be an extraordinary and fundamental contribution to the future survival of the world’s mangroves and the communities who depend on them.