Observations On The Impact of Segmentation and Closed Connection of the Last Mangrove Habitat on Barbados
Over the last decade or more, uncoordinated changes have been occurring to the coastal zone including a wide variety of groins, breakwaters, submerged breakwaters and other modifications to the original coastline that have impacted the distribution and long shore transport of biogenous sand along the coast of Barbados. Often, these modifications benefited the builder, but had unintended consequences to other properties. Such may be the case as the beach widened near the outfall of the last remaining mangrove habitat on Barbados. This widened beach has closed off to mangrove swamp to the point where salt water flushing is no longer occurring and there is not a connection for marine life to utilize this habitat. Without this connection, wide arrays of marine life are unable to complete their lifecycles or are forced to complete their life cycles in less than optimal habitat. Since the habitat has been cut of for some time, the remaining habitat has degraded and not surprisingly, roads are being built to provide human access to the swamp areas. These roads are further segmenting the Mangrove habitat and if adaptations to the current construction methods are not made, it would be pointless to save the Mangroves by re-opening the connection from a Marine species point of view.
Because of the extremely high bio-diversity value of this last mangrove habitat on Barbados, and because ocean engineering techniques now allow for management of sand transport, it is possible to reverse this trend and restore the mangrove habitat to its original function as a nursery for marine life. Two steps must be accomplished in order to restore this habitat to its original state. First, the canal that connects the Mangroves to the open sea must be re-opened and allowed to flow freely into and out of the mangroves. Secondly, the roads must be motified with bridges instead of drain pipes and large open channels to allow access by fish and other marine life.