Integrated Coastal Zone Management

© Fabian Vas / WWF-Guianas

Mangroves and Coastal Wetlands

The growing awareness of the need for improved climate resilience in the Guianas confirms the need for improved and integrated coastal zone management. With their low-lying coastal (urban) areas, the Guianas are markedly vulnerable to climate impacts. The coastal zone is characterized by extensive inter-tidal mudflats, intersected by narrow sand and shell beaches, and major mangrove swamps that are bordered inland by shallow saline and brackish lagoons and swamps (Edward et al., 2015). At present, remaining stretches of mangroves not only act as a natural protective barrier along the regions` dynamic shoreline, but provide a wide array of other ecosystem services that benefit communities. Mangroves serve as important carbon store and sink, provide valuable wildlife habitat, support nutrient and organic-matter processing and sediment control for other inshore habitats and serve as a spawning and nursing habitat for commercially valuable marine species. The food security for many (indigenous) coastal communities is closely linked to the health of these mangrove ecosystems. However, anthropogenic activities such as infrastructure development, sand mining, and over-fishing have degraded some of this vegetation especially in Guyana and parts of Suriname. With the prospect of climate change and sea level rise, there is now need for urgent action to safeguard remaining mangroves to protect property, lives and livelihoods along the Guianas’ coast and to avoid costly and counterproductive coastal dikes.
WWF Guianas aims to reduce unnatural loss of mangroves and enhance engagement of stakeholders to safeguard this ecosystem. Areas of focus:
  • Increase knowledge and awareness of the importance of mangroves
  • Support mangrove-based eco-tourism
  • Enhance capacity of stakeholders to support mangrove conservation and restoration
  • Stimulate policy debate on the importance of mangroves for shoreline protection
  • Advise on improved land use planning policies that respect natural shoreline dynamics