People and Blue Carbon: Conservation and Settlements in the Mangrove Forests of Mexico

  • Alejandro Espinoza-TenorioEmail author
  • Nancy I. Millán-Vásquez
  • Nicolás Vite-García
  • Graciela Alcalá-Moya


Mangroves provide multiple valuable environmental services, including their high potential for the sequestration of blue carbon. However, mangrove conservation is socially demanding. Through a spatiotemporal analysis of the inhabitants of this dynamic coastal ecosystem in Mexico, we found that the numbers of small settlements within mangroves increased during the study period despite a decline in mangrove stands and in the human populations inhabiting them. Extended rural developments have been banished to external buffer areas, whereas near-subsistence hamlets are increasingly occupying mangrove forest. The ability of mangroves to sequester atmospheric blue carbon relies on regional socioeconomic patterns and stressors that should be considered in the development of mangrove conservation initiatives. Our study enables identification of potential areas of research — e.g., forestry buffer zones, social exclusion, permanent settlements, and integral monitoring — that can incorporate the social dimensions of blue carbon conservation into the political and research agendas.


Climate change Environmental services Coastal ecosystems Mangrove settlements Blue carbon sequestration Mexico 



We thank A. Ayer, H. Ferro-Azcona, R. Ramos-Reyes, A. Fenochio-Figueroa, O. Cervantes-Rosas for the photographic material.

Funding information

The study was partially supported by Mexican Academy of Science under Scientific Research Summer’s scholarship to NI. Millán-Vázquez.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. We asked for illustrative photos from researchers working with mangrove inhabitants in Mexico (Fig. 1).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the photographs.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias de la SustentabilidadEl Colegio de la Frontera SurLermaMexico
  2. 2.Universidad Autónoma del Estado de MéxicoTolucaMexico
  3. 3.División Académica de Ciencias AgropecuariasUniversidad Juárez Autónoma de TabascoVillahermosaMexico
  4. 4.Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigaciones y Estudios sobre Medio Ambiente y DesarrolloInstituto Politécnico NacionalCiudad de MéxicoMexico

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