Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 755–767 | Cite as

Mitigating tourism-driven impacts on mangroves in Cancún and the Riviera Maya, Mexico: an evaluation of conservation policy strategies and environmental planning instruments

  • Ludger Brenner
  • Manuel Engelbauer
  • Hubert Job


The characteristics and patterns of tourism-driven impacts on mangroves are considerable, but still poorly understood. Therefore, this paper focuses on Mexico’s prime holiday destination to shed light on the specific environmental effects of high-end tourist development. It also evaluates the context-specific and structural challenges that conservation strategies and measures recently-applied to mitigate tourism-related environmental degradation of mangroves face. Fieldwork conducted from 2013 to 2015 was based on in-depth interviews with experts and mapping. Results show that the implementation of legal norms and environmental planning has not impeded the progressive deterioration of mangroves. Complex, self-reinforcing impacts due to site-specific natural conditions and vulnerability to encroachments, political priorities at the local and regional levels, poor integration of environmental policies, the predominance of private land tenure, and the prohibition of retroactive legislation, coupled with weak law enforcement, continue to thwart efforts to conserve the remaining mangroves. Thus, reconciling the long-term conservation of highly-vulnerable wetlands with a fast-growing tourism sector remains a difficult task, as comprehensive legal frameworks and detailed spatial environmental planning at the national and regional levels encounter considerable obstacles when attempts are made to implement them at the local level.


Tourism Mangroves Conservation Mexico 



The authors appreciate the funding from the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO/Convenio FB 1673/KE010/13, Mexico) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, Germany). Special thanks to Rainer Ressl and Verónica Aguilar Sierra for their kind support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

They declare that they have no conflicts of interests regarding this research.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Campus IztapalapaMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Institute for Geography and GeologyJulius-Maximilians-Universität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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