FCE LTER Journal Articles


Adventures and Misfortunes in Macondo: Rehabilitation of the Cienaga Grande


We describe trajectories of selected ecological indicators used as performance measures to evaluate the success of a mangrove rehabilitation project in the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (CGSM) Delta-Lagoon complex, Colombia, as result of freshwater diversions initiated in 1995. There is a significant reduction in soil and water column salinity in all sampling stations following the hydraulic reconnection of the Clarín and Aguas Negras channels to the Magdalena River. Soil intersticial water salinity (depth: 0.5 m) (7 stations) and water column salinity (0.5 m) (10 stations) values declined significantly (soil <30 g kg-1; water <10 g kg-1) from 1994 to 2000. During 1994 soil interstitial water salinity ranged from 40 g kg-1 (Rinconada) to 100 g kg-1 (KM 13), while water column salinity fluctuated between 25-35 g kg-1 for most of the sampling stations. This salinity reduction increased mangrove forest regeneration promoting a net gain of 99 km2 from 1995 to 1999. The high precipitation recorded in 1995 and 1999 caused by El Niño-La Niña (ENSO), coinciding with the channels rehabilitation, influenced rapid mangrove regeneration. The lack of economic investment in the maintenance of the diversion structures from 2001 to 2004 caused a salinity increase affecting negatively already restored vegetation. A sustainable effort from the international community and the Colombian government is needed to maintain the strategic social and economic benefits reached until 2000 in the CGSM region.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.