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Guanaja Mangrove Restoration is located in Central America on the island of Guanaja in Honduras.
In October of 1998, a large category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Mitch, made its first point of landfall at Guanaja. Mitch, in a movement pattern very unusual for hurricanes, stayed over Guanaja for three and a half days. The people survived by hiding out in the hills and crowding into the few structures that remained standing. The towns were largely destroyed and rebuilding was assisted by international aid and volunteers.
Also destroyed were the once abundant mangrove forests. The storm surge combined with the continuous strong winds to kill an estimated 95% of mangroves. If the environmental and hydrological conditions remain suitable, mangroves can typically recover from storm damage. In this case, however, the high percentage of mangroves destroyed, combined with geographic isolation from other mangrove areas, has resulted in very slow or no natural recovery. Erosion of the soil base is now a threat and could reduce the extent of available area for the mangroves to regrow.
Conversations with residents have revealed that compared to pre-Mitch, sea turtles and many species of birds and fish have disappeared from the area. Commercial fishing, a major means of subsistence on the island, has also noticeably worsened, presumably due to lack of nursery habitat and excess silt flow.
Guanaja Island, the primary restoration sight is in the upper right corner. Other areas are scattered around the island.
Dead trees look like smashed snowflakes.
This photo shows the region between NE Bight and Mangrove Bight, where nearly 100% of all mangroves were killed.
The following studies conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) discuss in depth the damage caused to the mangrove forests by Hurricane Mitch:
For more about Hurricane Mitch:
For more about Guanaja's place in the regional environment try these links: