Natural shields for Caribbean insular territories: Wave and wind attenuation by coral reef barriers and mangroves at San Andrés Island, Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, Colombian Caribbean
AuthorsPrato, J; A. Santos-Martínez; D. Castaño; A. L. Cupul Magaña; P. Schuhmann; E. Mancera; A. Robles; A. Macari; A. Hudson; J. Medina Download PDF Open PDF in Browser
Caribbean insular and coastal territories are exposed to strong winds, waves, storms, and hurricanes. Coral reefs and mangroves can provide coastal protection ecosystem services (ES) that become vital for human wellbeing specially under an insular context. Despite of that, these ecosystems has been deteriorated by several anthropic pressures worldwide, putting on risk the benefits we receive from them. Changes on management and decision making are needed to protect these necessary ecosystems for our survival, and for Caribbean people´s wellbeing, in our study we collected evidences from the field to better visualize the importance of coral reef barriers and mangroves at insular territories such as the San Andrés, Island, Seaflower Biosphere Reserve located at the Archipelago 180.000 km2 of Colombian oceanic waters. For that, we measured on field wave attenuation provided by barrier reefs and found wave height attenuation up to 90% under different sea conditions, waves at forereef up to 4.5 m height (Hs), were reduced to 50 cm due to barrier reefs. We also conducted wind speed field measurements during a high-speed winds season during 2020 at areas with and without mangrove trees over the windward coastline, and found that just one single mangrove can reduce 70% of wind speed on average, our theorical projections suggest that mangroves can reduce wind speed maintaining non damaging conditions to infrastructure even under a category 2 hurricane. These results motivate us to keep on further research on these subjects and are evidences that encourage decision makers at Caribbean to invest on protection and restoration of these ecosystems as a Nature Based Solutions-NBS for coastal protection.