Restoration Works

Mighty Mangroves

Restoring mangroves isn't just good for nature -- mangroves can act as coastal barriers from storms.

We're talking about coastal habitat restoration and how these projects are changing the lives of people, improving economies, and repairing critical marine ecosystems. Celebrate how Restoration Works by learning more about these vital restoration projects and help us continue to protect and restore nature!

Mangroves for People and Nature

In 2004, category-three Hurricane Ivan ravaged the island of Grenada and others in the Caribbean, knocking down homes, churches, and businesses. Many were left wondering how they could safely live at the water’s edge. Ivan also hit Union Island, to the north in the Grenadines, with similar results – except for a brand new preschool, a major source of pride for the community. The school is located behind a large stand of mangroves, which served as a natural barrier to the storm’s fury.

While mangroves – or any natural or man-made barrier for that matter – cannot stop the full force of every storm, on September 6th, 2004, they slowed the impact of Ivan and helped save a school

Beyond slowing storm surge and reducing beach erosion, mangroves provide habitat for nursing fish, birds and other marine life that help coastal communities and support livelihoods. 

Science Into Action

The Nature Conservancy is working with the Grenada Fund for Conservation Inc. and the Grenada Red Cross Society to look closely at climate adaptation strategies for Grenville, a fishing community on the northeast side of Grenada. 

Grenville is vulnerable to even the smallest of storm surges, and is witnessing erosion and loss of natural habitat every day. In the past, large stands of mangroves and healthy corals slowed waves before hitting Grenville’s beaches, providing a natural barrier for the community important marine habitat. 

Now, with mangrove systems largely missing from the community, beaches are eroding, wildlife habitat is gone, and homes are vulnerable. 

The approach combines local information about mangroves, coral reefs, beaches and water depth with historical and current data on roads, markets, flood zones and farms. Over 100 data layers – many provided by the local community – were overlaid on a three-dimensional map, on which areas at risk to flooding and storm surge could be easily identified. This community mapping exercise is helping to inform strategies that will reduce risk to storms and climate change, while improving livelihoods in the short term. 

Preparation, Innovation and Communication

One of the near term solutions identified is a mangrove restoration effort at Telescope Beach. Historical data show that mangroves once thrived here and helped protect the local beach. 

“Restoring mangroves in Grenville will help mitigate challenges like storm surge and sea level rise, reduce erosion, restore habitat for fish and improve water quality,” says Ruth Blyther, Eastern Caribbean program director with The Nature Conservancy.  

“In the short term it also helps the community by employing people to plant the mangroves, monitor the plantings and collect data about water quality. It’s a win for nature and the community.”

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