The main objective of Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary is to protect and conserve the only mangrove ecosystem in Peru and its great number of flora and migratory and resident fauna. For such a limited distribution, the forest is being lost at a considerable rate. Urgent measures are needed to prevent the complete deterioration of the ecosystem.
The mangrove ecosystem has become one of the most productive extractive areas in the entire Tumbes province. Traditional, non-traditional, rural, urban, transient, and immigrant extractors all utilize the system. Thanks to international support, the protected area has basic infrastructure, a physical presence, delineated boundaries, and a management plan and committee.
Shrimp farms have changed the landscape and the nature of the forested lands surrounding the sanctuary through deforestation and contaminated effluents. Resource harvesters enter the mangroves to collect increasingly scarce crabs and black conchs. Neighboring settlements litter and pollute the ecosystem. Deforestation in the watershed increases erosion and sedimentation in the sanctuary. Settlers move into the buffer zone, remove or graze the forest, and start agricultural settlements. Between these groups and uses, the natural resources and function of the ecosystem are strained.
Solutions abound: new and reactivated shrimp farms should not be permitted adjacent to the sanctuary without environmental impact statements and environmental management plans; farms currently in operation should implement Environmental Compliance Plans; effluents should be treated and not directly discharged into the mangroves; interior access should be limited in the sanctuary and violations enforced; harvest seasons should be created for aquatic resources and coordinated between Peru and Ecuador; municipalities should treat their waste and create organized litter collection; international interinstitutional cooperation should address trans-boundary waste issues; in the buffer zone, grazing and agriculture should be restricted and forests should be protected; and tourist activities should be appropriately planned and managed. Finally, efforts should continue to incorporate the Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary into the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve.