PHOTO CREDITS: SPENCER STONER, JILLIAN BAKER

Where We Work

 

 

Jiquilisco Biosphere ReserveOur work is primarily focused on the eastern side of the Lower Lempa River Estuary and the communities surrounding the Bay of Jiquilisco, on the southern central Pacific coast of El Salvador. We also provide some limited grants to community organizations in Honduras and Panama.

 

 

Though it is Central America’s smallest country, El Salvador unfortunately has the highest rate of environmental degradation in the region. War, poverty and high population density have caused massive deforestation and overexploitation of natural resources. Rural communities in the Lower Lempa region rely on small scale agriculture, fishing and crabbing to survive. Decades of intensive agrochemical use have left soil and water sources severely contaminated. These conditions likewise impact human and ecological communities downstream – including El Salvador’s largest intact wetland ecosystem and protected area, the Bay of Jiquilisco.

 

 

Mangrove Tree At 156,000 acres, the Bay of Jiquilisco contains Central America’s largest remaining mangrove forest and coastal estuary. This complex of inlets, intertidal wetlands and beaches provide critical habitat for an immense array of biodiversity, including shellfish, crabs, migratory birds, and a wide variety of fish. Four species of sea turtles nest here, including the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill.

 

 

 

 

Youth &  Biodiversity

Local communities depend on the mangrove forests to provide them with shellfish, crab, fish and other sources of nutrition and income. Moreover, the mangroves provide a barrier that shields the communities from the brute impact of hurricanes that are becoming more extreme as climate change accelerates. Without the mangroves, surrounding communities may cease to exist altogether.

 

 

 

At the global level, coastal wetland complexes such as the mangrove forests of the Bay of Jiquilisco can sequester up to four times more carbon dioxide per acre than rainforests and other freshwater woodland ecosystems. If this ecosystem is destroyed, our globe will lose one of its best carbon storage facilities, a major natural bulwark against planetary climate change.