Akazul is a UK registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company. Registration No. 07411520  © 2011

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The Ecology of La Barrona and its surrounding costal ecosystems is both diverse and important, not only to the coastal flora and fauna species, but to the surrounding population of local inhabitants. The work of Akazul is aimed at establishing the importance of these ecosystems both locally and internationally. Research into the status, ecological diversity, threats and economic dependency will allow us to understand the importance of these systems and produce appropriate sustainable management strategies to protect and preserve these ecosystems.

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Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within an ecosystem. It is also a measure of the health of an ecosystem. La Barrona’s estuarine mangrove habitats are fragile ecosystems, integral to maintaining a healthy and productive coastal environment. As well as providing a haven for a great number of avian, terrestrial and aquatic species, they also offer protective nursery grounds for commercially important aquatic species such as Penaeid shrimp, and provide the local community with other valuable natural resources.  Maintaining a high level of biological diversity is in the interests of both the wildlife and people of La Barrona.

Please find out more about our current ecological projects and activities on our Blog page.

Identify and assess the current status of habitats and species using biodiversity surveys, health and biomass assessments.


Accurately establish community dependency levels on coastal natural resources, as well as the relationship between human activities, ownership and economic value.


Design and implement an appropriate management plan, through which important habitats can be protected and preserved.


Through ongoing ecological surveying and effective management Akazul aims to help conserve La Barrona’s important mangrove and coastal water habitats. In order to achieve this goal, three key stages are necessary:

Guatemala’s Pacific coast is classified as highly productive with extreme diversity in continental and coastal marine areas. Two estuaries of the River Paz flow into coastal waters adjacent to La Barrona providing marine life with important nutrients, creating an area that is rich in both pelagic and demersal fisheries resources.  Important commercial species include; 15 species of shark, 6 species of snapper, 5 species of tuna, dolphin fish, various species of catfish and several species of mollusks and crustaceans (in particular several species of penaeid shrimp).

The main categories of fishing in these coastal waters are; large and medium scale industrial shrimp fishery, large scale purse seine tuna fishing large and medium scale fisheries, and small scale artisanal fishery (Project Global, 2007).

In addition to the four sea turtle species that can be found here, various species of cetacean also frequent these coastal waters, such as; Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), and Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that tolerate saline and brackish water and form a unique habitat in tidal areas. Their resistance to salt makes them particularly special in terms of their ability to survive in harsh environments where many other plant species could not. The mangrove roots are key adaptations, found in distinctive ‘knee’, ‘stilt’ ‘peg’ or ‘ribbon’ forms, as they play an important role in oxygen absorption and salt intake. Some species can also secrete excess salt through their leaves as crystals.

Mangroves are home to a wide variety of flora, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and fish. The unique environment provided by the mangrove roots offers a quiet, protective habitat and nursery ground for many aquatic and semi-aquatic species, including fish and crustaceans such as shrimp, barnacles and crabs.  The extensive root systems also help to protect coastal areas from erosion, flooding and storm damage. Unfortunately, in recent years, much of Guatemala’s important mangrove habitat has been destroyed due to the development of commercial sugar cane plantations, salt flats, and aqua-cultural areas such as shrimp farms.

La Barrona and the surrounding mangroves cover approximately 14km2, from the borders of La Barrona in Jutiapa, extending into Las Lisas, in the Santa Rosa district, and forms part of the Rio Paz basin that extends into El Salvador. Apart from the aquatic life, many avian species are attracted to the area, including members of the Egret family, several species of Heron and the illusive Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja). Other species of wildlife that thrive in the surrounding mangrove forest and scrubland area include reptiles such as Iguanas (Iguana iguana and Ctenosaura similis) and the Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodiles). Mammals such as bats, anteaters, racoons and Neo-tropical otters are also found here, as well as several species of amphibians and a huge array of insect life.

The Importance of Biodiversity in La Barrona
Coastal Waters
Monitoring and Protection / Conservation Activities