I was pleased to see today in El Salvador’s Prensa Grafica newspaper that the Jaltepeque Estuary of El Salvador was just declared a protected wetlands under the UN Ramsar Convention.
This beautiful mangrove forest, which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with local leaders, is at the mouth of the Lempa River. It is a critical ecosystem for many of our partner communities, such as Isla de Monte Cristo, La Tirana and La Babilonia. Since 2008 these communities have been implementing a unique conservation plan called the PLES (Programa Local de Extraccion Sostenible, or Local Sustainable Use Plan).
With our support, our local partners at the Mangrove Association and the Marine Science Institute of the University of El Salvador have helped eight local communities created science-based agreements regulating how many fish, crabs, shellfish, etc. can be harvested from the estuary in a given season, so that these species can recover and reproduce effectively. These agreements allow local families to make ends meet economically without over exploiting the natural resources they depend on to survive.
The PLES finally received recognition from the Ministry of the Environment in January of this year. We are hopeful that the Ministry will consider adopting this community-led conservation model for other areas of the country.