Project to Support Sustainable Management and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Mangroves in GBAGA Channel in Benín and Golfo Dulce in ACOSA, Costa Rica.
This project is a part of the Programme South – South Cooperation(), that emerged from the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which took place in Johannesburg in 2002. From this summit, the Republic of Benin (West Africa), the Kingdom of Bhutan (South Asia) and the Republic of Costa Rica, with the financial support from the Netherlands, entered into a strategic partnership agreement to cooperate in the area of Sustainable Development.
The Project to Support Sustainable Management and Conservation of Biodiversity in Mangrove of Gbaga Channel in Benin, was executed by the Eco-Ecolo organization in 2009, and lasted 6 months. The second phase of this project aims to support the sustainable management and conservation of mangroves in the Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. This phase of the project is being executed by the lead organization Fundacion Neotropica, maximizing the impact of the organization in the area, through its Center for Research and Community Empowerment in Rincon de Osa and joint work done with local organizations.
The Importance of Mangroves
Mangrove ecosystems in tropical areas represent a sanctuary which gives shelter to a great biological diversity. The diversity of animals inhabiting these ecosystems include species of birds, reptiles, fish, crustaceans and molluscs. In addition, mangroves maintain other functions, such as shoreline stabilization and prevention of coastal erosion.
Mangroves also provide the human population with economic activities and goods, such as property for families, firewood, fishing and ecotourism. Mangroves also provide medical substances and offer habitat and natural seed crops important to many aquatic species. Therefore, mangroves play an important role as sites of the conservation and productivity.
Threats to mangrove ecosystems in Benin and Costa Rica
As developing tropical countries, Benin and Costa Rica share many similarities in ecosystems and resources. The situation of the coasts and wetlands is critical in both countries due to a number of factors. In our country, the main threats to these ecosystems are the lack of land use policies, uncontrolled tourism development, pollution, deforestation in the highlands and overexploitation of resources.
Currently there is a new threat, with the possible resurgence of projects for the extraction of minerals such as gold, in the watersheds of Osa Peninsula, that directly affects the mangrove area, which this project intends to help protect and restore.
The Project in Benin
Prior to implementing the project in Costa Rica, the first phase was implemented in the Gbaga Channel in Benin by the Eco-Ecolo organization. The implementation of this project had the following results:
- 500 people were informed, half of which were women, about access rules and strategies of sustainable management of mangroves.
- A framework document was developed and implemented for regional development and management of mangroves.
- 2 hectares of woods were reforested and are being protected by women and youth of the region
- 200,000 mangrove seedlings were planted
- 5 environmental clubs were created with 636 people involved; among them teachers and pupils of the local schools
- Monitoring Committees were formed in every village around the project area
Helping the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Mangroves in Golfo Dulce
Foundacion Neotropica has over 20 years of experience working in the south of Costa Rica, especially in Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve. Thanks to this work, it was possible to identify the importance of mangrove ecosystems of Golfo Dulce and the need to recover some of the coverage that has been lost.
The joint project between Eco-Ecolo organization, the Republic of Benin, and Fundacion Neotrópica, gives us the opportunity to use the resources to promote sustainable management and conservation of this important ecosystem.
The project´s general objective is: ¨to contribute to the sustainable management and conservation of biological resources of mangroves and wetland ecosystems through local community participation and reduction of poverty in Benin and Costa Rica.”
The above is intended to be achieved through a comprehensive and sensitive approach from the point of view of gender equity, and by developing a management plan that allows the restoration and preservation of these ecosystems.
A cornerstone of the Foundation is to promote community self-management, so this project has been working closely with local organizations as co-executors, allowing to rescue the local knowledge and experience in sustainable management of natural resources that have served as the basis of their subsistence.
Local organizations involved in the project
The Association of Fishermen and Piangueros (Cockle Harvesters) of Golfo Dulce (ASOPEZ): a small association of fishermen and shellfish harvesting near La Palma in Puerto Jimenez, which has been reporting constantly in recent years, the threats to mangroves in the inner area of Golfo Dulce. ASOPEZ has experience providing training workshops for biological monitoring. It has 26 members dedicated to responsible fishery, sustainable management of mangrove ecosystem, rural tourism and joint management of protected areas.
Socio-Environmental Center of Osa: it is a grassroots organization that has, as its misión, social empowerment of community representations of Osa Peninsula and región of Golfo Dulce, promoting and integrating socio-economic and natural resource conservation.
COOPEMANGLE: community-based cooperative located in Coronado Bay with experience in the management and use of the mangroves of National Wetland Terraba Sierpe.
As part of the training process that Fundacion Neotropica promotes for the wise use of natural resources, the group of youth was formed which participated in the Course for Local Naturalist Guides between January and April 2009 in the facilities of the Center for Research and Community Empowerment. Three of the graduates, who live in the area where the project is developed, participate in the similar one as part of a team for environmental awareness.
In addition to local organizations mentioned before, the project involves other organizations such as Eco-Ecolo, which has been responsible for the execution of the project in Benin and participated as co-coordinator of the project in Costa Rica. There is also a support from Fundecooperación, as the organization responsible for implementing the Bilateral Agreement of Sustainable Development between Costa Rica and the Netherlands.
On the other hand, these organizations are also involved in the project: Technical Coalition of Osa Biological Corridor, MARVIVA, Osa Conservation Area and Project Ecoticos, which work with the sustainable management of the National Wetland Sierpe Térraba.
Population that benefited from the Project
In Costa Rica, the beneficiaries of the project will be communities of inner part of Golfo Dulce, in ACOSA, near mangrove ecosystems of Osa Biological Corridor, especially women who collect shellfish, artisanal fishermen and other groups such as young people involved in ecotourism.
Particular communities are Mogos, Bahía Chal, Rincón, Puerto Escondido and La Palma. The first three are part of the district of Sierpe, in the canton of Osa, Puntarenas. The other two are located in the district of Jimenez, in the canton of Golfito, Puntarenas. As the 2000 census indicates, these districts have serious disadvantages in terms of social indicators.
As indicated, this project may have very significant impact on improving the living standards of the participating communities and reducing pressure on mangrove resources.
Activities to be implemented in Costa Rica
- Raising awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems and sustainable management techniques among at least 250 people in the communities of Costa Rica, half of which are women.
- Developing and implementing a framework document that works as a management plan for the mangroves of Golfo Dulce.
- Reaching regional agreement that takes into account the aspirations of men and women in Golfo Dulce in ACOSA, Costa Rica.
- Reforesting and maintaining 2 acres of forest in ACOSA near Golfo Dulce
- Planting 100,000 seedlings in degraded mangrove areas of Golfo Dulce.
- Forming 5 environmental clubs near the mangroves of Golfo Dulce.
- Developing a code of good practice in the management of mangroves for Golfo Dulce in ACOSA
- Forming a monitoring committee in each community included in the project.
- Training the groups of participants in three activities of production and sustainable management
Possible Impact of the Project
- Environment: The implementation of this project will have significant environmental impact at local, national and even international level. The installation of a vegetative cover is an activity that ensures the reconstitution of the wildlife habitat which had disappeared, and consequently, contributes to the fight against climate change, through carbon sequestration and gas exchange. Internationally, migratory birds will find suitable sites for nesting. The rehabilitation of mangroves ensures the protection of coastal areas in both countries. Similarly, all the participants in the project will have enhanced their technical skills, which will drive them to better manage the activities.
- Social: On the social level, improving the ecological conditions implemented by the project will limit the migration of communities facing poverty, whose only solution used to be rural migration. Similarly, conflicts over resource exploitation will decrease considerably. The project will ensure a degree of social cohesion between communities.
- Economic: The project will improve the living conditions of local populations. The restoration of mangrove forests will increase local productivity, with fish products, such as crab, oysters, shellfish and fish, as well as opportunities for ecotourism and handicrafts. This, plus the creation of new production activities, will significantly improve the living conditions of populations, and will reduce the state of poverty in which they live.
- Gender Equality: This project also seeks to improve gender equality, to better the distribution of involvement of men and women in all areas of society and to ensure the same level and access to education. Equality between men and women is an essential part and the indicator of sustainable human development.
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