Importance of Mangroves
Maya-Ethnobotany News

Importance of Mangroves

Mangroves are a type of forest located in coastal areas of tropical and subtropical regions. Their characteristics allow them to be highly productive. They provide ecosystem services such as:

  • Refuge and habitat of wild flora and fauna (rich biodiversity)
  • Food source and supply of nutrients to other species (fish, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, etc.)
  • Carbon capture
  • Climate regulation
  • Hurricane, tsunami, rising sea levels, and storm protection
  • Soil erosion control (Gaxiola 2011: 358).

Red mangrove - Rhizophora mangle

Red mangrove – Rhizophora mangle Photo by David Arrivillaga – Río Sarstún – Jul 2021 – Tapón Creek.


However, mangroves are disappearing because of latent threats such as pollution, deforestation, and logging for livestock, tourism purposes, construction of ports, agricultural purposes, and aquaculture facilities, among others. This can cause serious ecological and socioeconomic impacts on biodiversity and the human population. Current estimates indicate that the area of mangroves has been reduced to two in the last 40 years, for this UNESCO agreed to proclaim July 26 as the International Day for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem (UNESCO 2022).

White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) – Photo by Victor Mendoza – Jul 2021 – Playa Quehueche.


Livingston is a municipality that stands out for its abundant biodiversity. In our Biodiversity Documentation project. The FLAAR Mesoamerica team has witnessed the discovery of the 4 mangrove species that inhabit Guatemala.

In our different expeditions, it was imposing to find these 4 species of mangrove, it is worth mentioning that one species was more abundant than the other.

The most abundant species of the 4 was the Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), since we found it from Río Sarstún to Río Dulce. This species were reported throughout the coast and banks of the rivers that we entered to document. The species was found in salty and brackish waters. A very curious event was seeing an abundance of red mangroves in El Golfete. While we sailed towards Castillo de San Felipe, this species was decreasing, until we reached a part of Lake Izabal where this species of mangrove notoriously no longer lives.

The second species of mangrove was documented only in 3 sites: Lagunita Creek, Taponcito Creek and Creek Blanco near Buga Livingston was the gray or buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus). The second species of mangrove documented was Gray mangrove or Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), found in Lagunita Creek, Taponcito Creek and…

The third most frequently documented species on the shores of the beaches, mainly Playa Quehueche, was white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)

Finally, our fourth species, which is the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), was possible to document only in Aldea San Juan, next to the Playa Blanca Tourist Site.

Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) – Photo by Maria Alejandra Gutierrez – Dec 2021 – Aldea San Juan.


Did you know? Even if the 4 species are called “mangrove”, they belong to different families as you can see in the following table:


Common name


Scientific name






Black mangrove


Avicennia germinans






White mangrove


Laguncularia racemosa






Button mangrove


Conocarpus erectus






Red mangrove


Rhizophora mangle





The FLAAR Mesoamerica photoessay series includes 2 of these impressive mangrove species: red mangrove and black mangrove; they were included because of their nutritional potential. Based on research carried out by the FLAAR Mesoamerica research team and Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth, there is information that these two species of mangrove are edible. They are not necessarily consumed today in Guatemala, but they used to be long ago and in other countries. Their food consumption has been reported.

Gray or buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) – Photo by Roxana leal – Jul 2021 – Creek Blanco.



  • GAXIOLA, J. M. D.
  • 2011
  • Revisión sobre los manglares: características, problemáticas y su marco jurídico. Importancia de los manglares, el daño de los efectos antropogénicos y su marco jurídico: caso sistema lagunar de Topolobampo. Ra Ximhai: revista científica de sociedad, cultura y desarrollo sostenible, 7(3), 355-369.


Written by Researchers Victor Mendoza and Belén Chacón
Edited by Researcher Vivian Hurtado

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