Extensive new coastal Site in El Salvador

Extensive new coastal Site in El Salvador

26 June 2014
El Salvador

El Salvador has designated its seventh Ramsar Site, the Complejo Barra de Santiago (11,519 ha; 13°42’24”N 90°0’59”W) at the western end of its Pacific coast. The Site contains an area representative of the mangroves of the dry Northern Pacific ecoregion of Central America and a palm tree (Brahea salvadorensis) swamp representative of an ecosystem specific to the Mesoamerican dry tropical forest ecoregion. It supports numerous threatened or endangered species. Among these are four species of marine turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea, Dermochelys coriacea and Chelonia mydas) and other species severely threatened by their commercial trade value, such as the yellow-naped parrot (Amazona auropalliata).

The mangroves also support about 75% of the commercially important coastal fauna in El Salvador. Many of these species, such as the shrimp of the Penaeidae family, depend on the mangroves as feeding, spawning and nursery areas. The Site is important for local communities as they depend on artisanal fishing for their livelihoods. It is threatened by unregulated urbanization, overgrazing, the growth of sugar cane and the increasing demand of wood for construction, as these have caused deforestation, changes in the hydrology of the area and pollution.