Loss of mangroves seen as invitation to erosion in Guyana

A French study shows that the country of Guyana is facing likely massive erosion because it has lost the bulk of its coastal mangroves.

The situation is important to Costa Rica where coastal development has endangered mangroves but not yet to the extent that has happened in the South American country.

Environmental officials have repeatedly pointed out the damage to mangroves on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica and along the Caribbean.

A study conducted by IRD researchers and the University of Aix-Marseille reported that the reduced protection provided by mangroves against the ocean swell in Guyana will lead to the large-scale erosion of 370 kilometers (230 miles) of the country’s coastline.

The French agency for inter-institutional development research said that the worldwide mangrove forest area has been reduced by 30 percent over 20 years, mainly due to the rising sea level.

The mangrove forests in the Guyanas (French Guiana, Surinam and Guyana), which spread across the Orinoco and Amazon deltas, are among the most extensive in the world, it noted. This particular ecosystem, between the earth and the sea, plays a major role in protecting the particularly unstable muddy coastline against erosion. However, most of the Guyana mangroves have been destroyed to develop the coastal plain, it noted.

The retreating mangrove wall will result in large-scale coastal erosion, threatening populations and their economic activities, as demonstrated in this study, the agency said, adding that more than three quarters of Guyana’s 450 kilometers (about 280 miles) of coastline along the Atlantic are currently diked up. Coastal stability now depends on these earthen dikes, it said.

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