World

Eco-friendly stoves help preserve El Salvador’s coastal mangroves

María Luz Rodríguez stands next to her solar oven where she cooked lasagna in the village of El Salamar, in the municipality of San Luis La Herradura. In this region of southern El Salvador, an effort is being made to implement environmental actions to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala / IPS
  • by Edgardo Ayala (san luis la herradura, el salvador)
  • Inter Press Service

“We have learned to coexist better with the environment, to use it but without degrading it, in particular the mangroves; without the mangroves, there would be no fish in the wetlands”, said Daniel Mercado, president. of the Local Development Committee of San Luis La Herradura. IPS.

The coastal villages of this municipality and other surrounding municipalities are located in the Estero de Jaltepeque, a complex ecosystem where a variety of animal and plant species live in mangroves, bodies of water and wetlands.

El Estero is a nature reserve with a watershed covering 934 square kilometers in the coastal region of the central department of La Paz, in this Central American country of 6.8 million people.

Some 600 families from these communities have received support to promote a model of sustainable development that has given good results. The investment of more than $ 400,000 comes from the Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Many of these people now use environmentally friendly stoves, like rocket stoves: circular stoves that require very little wood and produce little smoke.

Additionally, the firewood comes from living fences made from gliricidia trees (Gliricidia sepium), which provide firewood, thus protecting the mangroves from people searching for fuel.

Complementing the rocket stove is the so-called magic stove, a circular box made of polystyrene, a material that retains heat.

After the soup or stew has boiled on the stovetop, the pot is placed in a magic pan and covered, and cooking is complete. This saves wood and time, as people can perform other tasks in the meantime.

Solar ovens have also been introduced, consisting of a box with a cover that works like a mirror that directs sunlight inwards, covered with metal sheets.

Other components of the project, which ended in 2018, include the implementation of sustainable agriculture and fisheries.

Beneficiaries had to work on the mangrove plantation to benefit from program support. As a result, 500 hectares of mangroves have been preserved or restored and sustainable practices have been implemented across 300 hectares of marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

However, preserving the mangroves remains a challenge as people from other communities come to cut down trees and government authorities do little to prevent it, Mercado said.

In any case, sustainability can be enjoyed in food cooked on ecological stoves and in other initiatives carried out along the Pacific coast of this small Central American nation, where awareness of the need to ‘sustainable development is increasingly important among the inhabitants.

For more information, you can read this story: Recipes with a taste of sustainable development on the coast of El Salvador.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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