Mangrove forests are among the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems in the world, and function as buffer zones protecting communities living in them. In the Yucatan peninsula, these mangroves are threatened by economic development and poorly controlled land use planning. In this area, residents frequently experience intense rainfall resulting in flooding that causes extensive damage. In particular, the fishing community of San Crisanto was severely affected by two consecutive hurricanes in 1995.
These events led the inhabitants to create the San Crisanto Foundation, whose objective is to develop resources sustainably by restoring mangroves, local biodiversity and protecting wetlands. The main activities of the inhabitants are fishing and coconut plantation. They own the land around the community, through the "ejido" system, a way of collectively managing land in Mexico that allows owners to maintain their economic activities, without the land being taken over by large industries. The San Crisanto Foundation was born by incorporating itself into this "ejido". In addition to the economic activity of the latter, the foundation includes environmental and social aspects. To drain water into the mangroves and increase aquatic fauna, 11,300 metres of canals have been restored, as well as 45 cenotes, which are large natural wells created in karst environments. Thanks to these activities, the inhabitants have also been able to develop ecotourism and diversify their sources of income.
To make these protection actions sustainable, the San Crisanto Foundation educates its inhabitants and those of neighbouring communities, adults and children alike, on the importance of preserving mangroves to conserve available natural resources.