Mangrove Conservation

Mangrove (Rhizophoraceae) forest biomes include a variety of tree and shrub species that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics.  There are over 100 species of mangrove worldwide. 
Students navigating through the mangroves
Students navigating through the mangroves

The Global Classroom conducts a yearly in-depth study of crucial mangrove forests located in an area of Baja, Mexico called Magdalena Bay. The goal of this project is to document and identify all wildlife found within the mangrove forests and surrounding area, creating a baseline of data for future scientific and conservation projects. The study is open to volunteers wishing to gain unique field experience in some of the most pristine mangrove areas left on earth.

A reddish heron - one of many bird species that thrives in the mangrove ecosystem
A reddish heron – one of many bird species that thrives in the mangrove ecosystem

Mangroves are an essential component of coastal ecosystems in that they provide a habitat for a number of wildlife species, as well as maintain water quality by acting as a filter, recycling waste materials. Mangroves also act as a barrier for coastline during turbulent weather. Their intricate, above-ground root systems allow for wave impact absorption, significantly decreasing the velocity of water passing through the root barrier. This means that the likelihood of land erosion is lessened greatly where mangrove forests are present. Tropical storms (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) would not have such a catastrophic effect on coastal environments if it were not for the devastation of mangrove forests, which keep the fragile coastline intact. Mangrove populations are at an all time low worldwide, as coastal engineering and human development takes a direct toll on their survival.

Using sea kayaks to navigate the dense labyrinth of mangrove forests, participants collect samples, note climate and water conditions, and photograph or film the insects, birds, reptiles, mollusks and mammals that use the dense vegetation for food and shelter. Research participants will have the chance to learn skills such as animal tracking techniques, GPS data collection, wildlife photography, desert and mangrove natural history, and sea kayaking.