This Earth Day, EcoViva is celebrating the resilience of our partner communities in El Salvador who keep finding creative ways to protect their homes and livelihoods. Earth Day coincides with the beginning of nesting season for the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill sea turtle, very likely the most endangered sea turtle on our planet.
It is estimated that 70% to 90% of this rare turtle’s nesting sites are in El Salvador, and the majority of these are in our partner communities in the Bay of Jiquilisco. In 2009, our local partners created the first Hawksbill-specific turtle hatchery in El Salvador. The Hawksbill relies mainly on mangroves to nest and feed.
Mangrove forests symbolize life in the Bay of Jiquilisco, providing coastal livelihoods for hundreds of families. Mangroves are also nature’s best way to protect shorelines against wild weather, and they store massive amounts of carbon to stave off the cause of global climate change. If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then mangroves are the liver, spleen and kidneys.
Yet the world over, many tracts of mangroves are dying, despite years of reforestation efforts. Only a third of mangroves are still around today that existed fifty years ago, and we continue to lose roughly 1% of what remains each year. In the Bay of Jiquilisco, like other parts of the world, mangroves are being cut off from the sources of water and nutrients they need to survive.
Working with La Coordinadora and the Mangrove Association, EcoViva is helping to foster a new mindset about restoration in El Salvador, ensuring that mangroves remain viable for local communities as a source of livelihood, and the rest of the world as an irreplaceable buffer against climate change. This summer, we will work with international mangrove experts to help local communities restore and improve degraded mangrove areas in the Bay of Jiquilisco.
Meanwhile, we are also working with our partners to address the most critical threat to the survival of young Hawksbill turtles- the use of explosives in fishing. Our local partners have formed four sustainable fishing cooperatives, groups of fisherpeople who commit to stop using explosives and who patrol the Bay to ensure that others do the same.
P.S. Special thanks to all who have donated to the GlobalGiving challenge for the youth literacy campaign! We are very close to meeting our goal of $4,000!