Volunteers plant red mangrove in Condado to prevent coastal erosion

In the Playitas de San Gerónimo, the threat of the erosion It can be seen. Facing the calm waves of the County Lagoon, a grass edge ends abruptly. And right here, members of the San Juan Bay Estuary They met with volunteers from L’Oréal Caribeto plant red mangrove, a species that can prevent the loss of coastline, which poses a risk to land and buildings in the popular area.

The coastal vegetation planting took place last Thursday, with more than 80 volunteers from the company taking the day off to help. Together with members of the Estuary – who coordinated the event as a way of contributing to coastal resilience – they gathered under the morning sun to dig holes and plant, in total, 390 plant individuals, of seven different species.

These plants, coordinators explained, serve the double function of sustaining the natural environment and, at the same time, focusing attention on the importance of conservation.

“It becomes like part of the culture, right? To speak and think in a responsible way.”said Brenda Torres Barretoexecutive director of Estuario, who explained that the event was not only about planting plants, but also about understanding the importance of “gradually transforming a mind towards social responsibility.”

L’Oréal Caribe volunteers participated in the planting. (Pablo Martínez Rodríguez)

Along these lines, he highlighted the unique role of the Estuary in coordinating efforts between organizations, government, companies and the public across the island. He also highlighted the value for the entity of promoting collaborations, both with companies and the government, as they allow it to maintain updated information on the condition of the estuary, which makes up a network of rivers, canals and lagoons that extends to the coast in eight municipalities between Toa Baja and Loíza.

“There is empowerment in terms of connecting groups in these regions to better coordinate conservation efforts”, said to The new day.

For L’Oréal, the participation of volunteers was made possible thanks to the “Citizen Day”, a tradition that the company has had for 15 years.

“It goes beyond the symbolic value of giving back time,” he said. Gilles Delaunaygeneral manager of L’Oréal Caribe. “I mean, we are a big company, we have the ability to have access to a lot of people and be an example of giving our time to support things”, He added, highlighting the joining of efforts in the private sector to contribute to environmental conservation.

“Without mangroves, there is no coast”

The red mangrove, which dominated among the variety of species, was planted as a green infrastructure effortwhich refers to taking advantage of nature to solve problems related to design, engineering and others associated with urban planning.

“(With) the mangroves, in particular, it is the fact that they prevent the coasts, which is one of the most beautiful natural resources that we have here, on this island, from eroding, from disappearing,” he said. Jessie Juarbewho is a green infrastructure specialist and supported the event.

He mentioned, for example, that, to try to stop erosion in this area, in the past, concrete blocks were used, an effort that, however, was unsuccessful. Now, mangroves will be able to work where tons of concrete failed.

Green infrastructure initiatives take advantage of nature to solve design, engineering and other problems associated with urban planning.
Green infrastructure initiatives take advantage of nature to solve design, engineering and other problems associated with urban planning. (Pablo Martinez Rodriguez)

“Without mangroves, there is no coast. Without coast, there is no land.”he summarized, meanwhile, Maria Gabriela HuertasEstuary’s multi-sector relations manager, explaining that green infrastructure efforts use the biology and chemistry of the plants being planted to solve specific problems.

In this case, The roots of plants compact the soil they inhabit, strengthening it to prevent erosion.Red mangrove is used because of its ability to handle high salinity, which makes it ideal for coasts near the ocean, but different species can also be planted in different areas, depending on the water condition. In this way, the natural aspects of the plants can be used to prevent erosion throughout the estuary.

“Citizens are needed, number one”, stressed Torres Barreto, when talking about the relevance of paying more attention to nature with these activities. He stressed that, with planting, a personal relationship is created with the environment, which is why – in his opinion – they are events that contribute to resilience and will help preserve and appreciate the beauty of the Puerto Rican land for generations.