Socioecological Restoration to Build Climate Resilience on the Coast of Chiapas, Mexico

Changes in water flows, deposition of eroded soil, and removal of sediments cause mangrove degradation. And, African palm’s presence as an invasive species generates a loss of biodiversity and other perturbances related to ecosystem services provision.

As a solution, 1044 ha has been identified for climate and socioecological restoration and, 5,585 ha to be conserved by local actions led by communities.

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Project Details

Legal Entity that will Lead Project Activities

Fundación Mexicana para el Océano A.C., Ecología, Sustentabilidad e Innovación A.C., and Resiliencia Azul A.C.

Experience on Restoration

An experienced team with 20 years of experience working in Nature Based Solutions involving wetlands and forest restoration, sustainable management and conservation in coastal ecosystems and watersheds in the South of Mexico. The Consortium promotes good practices related with land and ocean resources linked with livelihoods improvement for local communities.

Restoration project participants in Chiapas, Mexico


A collaboaration of NGOs: FMO, RA and ESI have 15 years of experience in the proposed region. Since 2015 ESI has worked in the coastal ecosystems of Chiapas in Mexico. We have a strong collaboration with the work of Bioshpere Reserve “La Encrucijada” and the Puerto Arista Beach Sanctuary. We belong to the Advisory Council of the Encrucijada and we are the technical coordinators of the Academic Scientific Sub-Council of the same Council one of the main functions is to give technical opinions on the projects that are developed in the natural area.

Project Description


Changes in water flows, deposition of eroded soil and removal of sediments causes mangrove degradation. African Palm presence as invasive specie generates loss of biodiversity and other perturbances related to ecosystem services provision.

As a solution, 1044 ha has been identified for climate and socioecological restoration and, 5,585 ha to be conserved by local actions led by communities.


Strengthen local governance, reducing the impact of extreme weather events on livelihoods. Restoration of 350 ha and Conservation of 5,585 ha. 550,000 tCO2e removed & avoided in 30 years period.

Invasive species removal and agroforestry implementation in 100 ha (Core area) from 500 ha determined as affected by invasive sp.


Project Goals

To restore 350 ha and conserve 5,585 ha of mangroves through afforestation, revegetation, and reforestation of 140,000 trees to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and reconvert by agroforestry 100 ha.

Project Goals Addressed

mangrove babies in Chiapas, Mexico


Climate benefits of 550,000 tCO2e removed & avoided in 30 years period.

standing in a marsh field in Chiapas, Mexico


Composed of coastal lagoons, swamps and marshes forming the largest area of mangrove forest in the North American Pacific, it is also the only zapotonal woodland (Pachira acuatica) in Central America. The site supports a large variety of wildlife that is threatened, endemic, rare, or in danger of extinction. 183 bird species have been reported, and it is a temporary and seasonal habitat for numerous migratory species. Nine of 19 vegetative associations recorded for Chiapas are present.

project participants on a boat in Chiapas, Mexico


Human activities include an important commercial fishery, slash-and-burn agriculture, extensive cattle ranching, and exploitation of the area’s fauna. Sedimentation due to poorly planned water projects, deforestation, and slash-and-burn agriculture impact upon lagoons and lakes.

Project Location

The action area of the Initiative is La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve (REBIEN) 20/03/96; Chiapas; 144,868 ha; 15°11’N 092°53’W. Ramsar site no. 815; Pacific coast of the Chiapas State in Mexico.

Figure 1. Project area in the Biosphere Reserve La Encrucijada, Chiapas, Mexico.
Figure 1. Project area in the Biosphere Reserve La Encrucijada, Chiapas, Mexico.

Justification of Area Selected

The project is a priority region for hydrologic, terrestrial and marine conservation, especially, the conservation of mangroves, birds and fish stocks. Between 1980-2010, annual rates of mangrove deforestation in the REBIEN (0.54%) doubled that of other forested ecosystems in México (0.21%). The main drivers are the expansion of mango and oil palm plantations and cattle ranching. These are productive activities with higher opportunity cost than fishing, that is the most important ecosystem service of mangroves in the region, and also the unique that is integrated to regional economy. This causes a double challenge, because local livelihoods depend on mangrove health and this ecosystem is vulnerable because of land use change promoted by non-sustainable agriculture and invasive species.

Fifty percent of the local municipalities of the REBIEN have high and very high levels of exposure to the negative impacts of climate change.

Project Size and Scale


The project size is 350 ha of mangrove in a degraded condition / 100 ha for productive reconversion associated with invasive species (African palm) removal and implementation of agroforestry systems in the core area of the Natural Protected Area. And 5,585 for conservation. This phase can be scalable through the whole watershed. FMO-TOF has an MOU with the Commission of Natural Protected Areas and future plans are feasible if funding is available.


At least 100,000 mangroves and 40,000 Agroforest spp trees planted (Afforestation, Revegetation, Reforestation) 70-80% survivance rate.

Tree Density

406 trees/ha (Conocarpus erectus, Avicennia germinans, Rizophora mangle & Laguncularia racemosa) based in National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) density recommendations and local experience from ECOSUR (Research Center). Considering 65% survival rate of 625 trees per hectare. There is previous work done in the area and publications that relate to the methodology we are proposing in the Coastal Zone of Chiapas. 

More Information

Stage of the Project

Shovel-ready (project planning is complete and team is ready to begin active restoration/ conservation activities once funded). Conservation/restoration activities begin on 2024 and are expected to end in 2027.

driving a boat

Project Approaches

  • Planting
  • Natural Regeneration
  • Mixed (Assisted Natural Regeneration)
  • Agroforestry
  • Hydrological restoration
  • Topographic reconstruction
  • Other: Invasive species removal habitat types

Habitat Types Included in the Project

The project covers tropical and subtropical terrestrial forests and swamp forest.

Cause of Degradation/Key Threat

Between 1970s-1980s the Chiapas Coastal Hydraulic Plan was implemented, it modified the flow of the rivers of the coastal plain and drained the flood zones, which allowed the agricultural frontier to advance promoting land-use change and agricultural crops of oil palm, mango, sugar cane, and cattle ranching. Between 1980-2010, annual rates of mangrove deforestation in the REBIEN (0.54%) doubled that of other forested ecosystems in México (0.21%). In addition, climate extreme events of 1998 and 2005 in the region accelerated the sedimentation processes of the coastal plain and have caused significant loss and degradation of wetlands, including mangroves.


First, a forensic ecology analysis will be conducted to identify the local and landscape-level causes that led to the death or degradation of the mangrove (CIFOR 2020). Then, a characterization of three strata; degraded sites, a well-preserved or good-condition reference site, and a degraded or poor-condition site will be conducted. The restoration & productive reconversion (agroforestry) will be implemented by:

The project visualizes active and passive restoration components. Including hydrological rehabilitation through the enabling of water flows, hydraulic connectivity, and topographic modifications and reforestation (López-Portillo, et al., 2017). Monitoring the progress and success of restoration actions and establishing linkages and socialization.

Enabling Conditions

Native species have not regenerated because the original conditions have changed modifying the natural water flows that are reflected in a change in the hydroperiod, salinity, soil, or seed or propagule availability; in addition, mangroves area near communities where cattle enter the mangrove and do not allow it to regenerate. Recovering flow and restoring natural conditions. In the case of mangrove areas with invasive oil palm populations, the elimination of individuals allows the mangrove to recover. In cattle ranch interventions are related to eliminating animal presence in mangroves. Canals need to be rehabilitated allowing individuals and populations of mangroves to grow. In addition,  invasive oil palm need to be eliminated and regenerated with agroforest species.

Project Ownership

The project is led by The Ocean Foundation in collaboration with Fundación Mexicana para el Océano AC, Resiliencia Azul A.C and Ecosistemas, Sustentabilidad e Innovación AC as local partners. The communities are owners of the land and natural resources, they are the main beneficiaries of the conservation and restoration of the mangrove swamp and of the productive reconversion that results from the eradication of the invasive African palm species.

A process of Prior, Free, and Informed Consent will be conducted once the project is funded. The agreements are formalized through a community Assembly where the consent to carry out the actions proposed by the project is specified, commitments and benefits are defined, as well as the applicable work plan and the benefits that it entails.

Land Ownership

The project will be conducted on 3 types of property legally owned: private, social (ejidos), and national (public lands and Federal Terrestrial-Maritime Zone – ZOFEMAT). No conflicts or issues related to land tenure have been identified for the Ejidos involved in the project. And in the case of national lands, work will be carried out in coordination with the REBIEN, which is responsible for land management associated with the federal government.  An MoU between FMO and CONANP recognizes the agreement to work in the Natural Protected Area proposed.

Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) of Local communities impacted by Project Activities

The project has advanced in agreements having some informative meetings conducted with nine communities that could be involved; an FPIC will be considered as the initial activity for the project implementation based on Resiliencia Azul policy (VF_CPLI_RA_2023.pdf). A grievance mechanism will be created specifically for the project to be published on FMO, RA, TOF, and ESI websites and through the existing email: [email protected]

group of people on a boat
project participants in marsh


Annex 1. Human Resources

Resiliencia Azul is a non-profit Civil Association founded in 2020 that promotes and advises the design, financing, coordination and execution of technical, legal, financial and governance actions that contribute to the mitigation and adaptation to global climate change. The work team is multidisciplinary (link to institutional CV). Represented by Rosalía Andrade Medina (CV Rosalía Andrade); they have more than 15 years of experience in the analysis, development, monitoring, and evaluation of initiatives and projects that address the restoration and recovery of mangroves, working hand in hand with communities in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas, Veracruz, and Campeche.

Ecología Sustentabilidad e Innovación Ecología Sustentabilidad e Innovación (ESI AC) is a non-profit civil organization, founded in 2015, made up of professionals with knowledge in various socio-environmental issues that seek conservation and sustainable development. The organization is a space where we managed to integrate and collaborate in a transdisciplinary way to meet different needs related to the conservation and management of natural resources in the state of Chiapas with an emphasis on watersheds and the coastal zone. (CV Institucional ESI). Represented by Matilde Rincón Pérez (CV Matilde Rincón ) Our purpose is to generate spaces for collaboration and research to strengthen the capacities of the different social actors that promote the conservation of natural resources. Most of our work has focused on the coastal ecosystems of Chiapa, collaborating closely with the La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve and its area of influence, addressing different challenges including mangrove conservation.

Fundación Mexicana para el Océano (FMO) is a non-profit organization based in Mexico to protect the marine environment, especially in relation to proposed environmental legislation. Since its creation in 2019, the FMO allows supporting projects and programs that strengthen the protection and restoration of natural resources in collaboration with various institutions at the national level (CONANP, SEMARNAT, CANACINTRA and CONABIO) (link a la descripción).

Annex 2. Biosphere Reserve La Encrucijada, Chiapas, México

map of the area