Yucatán, Mexico

Mangrove Conservation and Restoration in San Crisanto

a project by San Crisanto Foundation with ClimateSeed

Project Description

The Mangrove Conservation and Restoration in San Crisanto project covers around 700 hectares of mangrove restoration and conservation as well as numerous activities to preserve biodiversity, sustainably manage natural resources, build community capacity and improve the delivery of healthcare and education services. The primary focus is cleaning and maintaining local canals and cenotes to prevent siltation, which has detrimental effects on the health of local ecosystems. Clear, open canals also enable the community to provide boat trips and wildlife observation excursions to tourists visiting the area, an important source of income. The foundation also undertakes annual evaluations of mangroves and assessments of changes in fish populations, bird species, and crocodiles (Crocodylus moreletii) monitoring to track the impacts of its conservation work.

The Mangrove Conservation and Restoration in San Crisanto project, which was registered under Climate Action Reserve’s Mexico Forest Protocol, is the first of its kind in Mexico. To date, the project includes four reporting periods and an estimated 35,528 tCO2e have been removed by the project. It is an example of assisted natural regeneration, where local communities intervene to help native vegetation to naturally recover.

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35 528 tCO2

total emission reduction of project to date

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hectares of mangroves restored and conserved

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denotes rehabilitated and delisted

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12 000

meters of local canals drained

Deep-Dive into the Blue Carbon Project


San Crisanto is a small fishing community of approximately 150 Mayan families located along the northern coast of Mexico, in the peninsula of Yucatán. The region is susceptible to severe weather events, facing heavy rainfalls and a consistent risk of flooding. In 2002, the unusual torrential rains of Hurricane Isidore destroyed 99% of the mangroves in the area, causing widespread flooding and bringing economic activity in the area to a halt. 

The San Crisanto community responded to the heavy damage by building a drainage system alongside a highway bordering the mangrove, to allow floodwaters to naturally drain through the mangroves, and out into the sea. The success motivated the community to create a sustainable development program. The San Crisanto Foundation was formally established to support the subsequent hydrological restoration and conservation efforts. This included rehabilitating 45 cenotes and draining 12,000 meters (or 12 kilometers) of local canals across 800 hectares of mangroves.

This way, the community identified and diversified their income opportunities by leveraging their knowledge from ancient Mayan traditions, ensuring sustained economic stability throughout the seasons. The productive activities in the Ejido community have evolved and diversified, but remain unequivocally linked to the conservation and health of local ecosystems. 

In 2020, ClimateSeed came into relationship with the San Crisanto Foundation at a time when the development of the blue carbon project was facing critical financial bottlenecks to complete the certification process. These included standard requirements with overhead costs, including MRV costs for baseline sampling and calculations, verification, and certification. We partnered with the foundation to fill the financial gap and accelerate the project's launch. 

In the spring of 2022, after four years since the blue carbon project's start date, the project received its certification and first credit issuance from the Climate Action Reserve.

Today, the project has already removed 41,213 tCO2e. The mangrove conservation and restoration ultimately allowed both the coastal community and the ecosystem to thrive. 

Biodiversity restored and thriving 

By 2017, 66% of mangroves lost during the hurricanes were restored, which imminently saw the reemergence of the surrounding ecosystem. Prior to the rehabilitation of cenotes, the numbers of endemic fish species were very low. After the hydrological restoration activities, the community observed dramatic increases both in the diversity of species and the abundance of fish in the cenotes. The most noticeable changes have been in populations of freshwater catfish (namely Guatemalan Rhamdia) and freshwater pikes. 


Today, the restoration efforts and eco-tourism services have generated 60 jobs, and the implementation of adjacent activities parallel to conservation helped the community to sustain itself. Back when the foundation was established, 90% of San Crisanto's population lived below the poverty line. By 2010, the entire population had incomes twice that of the national per capita (average $6000/year). Eco-tourism revenues are reinvested in the community for infrastructure projects of school and educational material, and 30% of students in the community are continuing to pursue higher education and technical degrees.


The 'Ejido' is a form of land tenure designation where groups of people communally possess and manage tracts of land. The San Crisanto Ejido has full ownership and stewardship authority of the wetlands and mangroves within the territory. They operate and maintain the project, employing its youth and reinvesting revenues in community capacity-building activities to further develop the local economy.

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jobs generated by restoration efforts

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66 %

of mangroves lost during the hurricanes and restored since 2017



resident, migratory and endemic bird species protected


30 %

of students in the area continue to pursue higher education


San Crisanto Foundation

The San Crisanto Foundation is a community-based organization formally established in 2001 that manages and supports all conservation and restoration, capacity-building, and education projects in the San Crisanto Ejido.


Winner of the UNDP's Equator Prize 

In 2010, the San Crisanto Foundation won the United Nations Development Programme's Equator Prize, for their community-based environmental conservation, community education, and sustainable livelihoods efforts.


Project registration

The project was officially registered under Climate Action Reserve in 2018. At the time, the local community and the San Crisanto Foundation had already been supporting many hydrological activities, and the Ejido, along with some grant money,  was financing all activities.

©Fundación San Crisanto

Collaboration with ClimateSeed

In 2020, ClimateSeed partnered with the Foundation to provide the necessary funding to cover the costs associated with the verification, validation, and certification process. Such costs included costs for baseline sampling and calculations, project verification, and certification.


Project 1st credit issuance

The first three reporting periods were completed in April 2022 after the first project verification (independent audit) by a Verifying Body. The project was officially certified and issued its first carbon credits.

© Mike Diaz

Project 2nd credit issuance

The fourth reporting period was completed in April 2023. 

To date, the project has completed its first four reporting periods and has removed 35,528 tCO2e of aerial carbon. The project received certification by Climate Action Reserve and the issuance of credits.

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jobs created by eco-tourism businesses



meters of canals restored


5,000 - 10,000

migratory aquatic birds provided with habitat in the wintertime


2,000 +

population of marsh crocodiles protected

“The success of the project is the result of 7 years of hard-work and perseverance from the community. Today, the Ejido is proud to pioneer the first blue carbon project at a national level and pave the way for the future work of communities in Latin America.”
Jose Ines Loria Palma

President of the San Crisanto Foundation

Community testimonials

The project has created great benefits for the local community.

San Crisanto

Berny Celiset Puc Ma, Community Coordinator

"We have the vision that San Crisanto will be autonomous because its resources generate this potential. We want to develop a community that is self-sustainable and independent without having to rely on others. We want to develop a clinic and schools for our children to have all the resources they need so they don't have to leave the Ejido to find it elsewhere. It's a fight to establish our own group of people to dictate our own rules and decisions. We are the first Ejido in Mexico to develop blue carbon projects, but we also want to become the first one to be autonomous."

San Crisanto

Daniela Salvador Mendoza, Researcher from the Chapingo Autonomous University

"San Crisanto has a very important role in conservation, not only mangrove conservation but also for biodiversity. I worked in the transects to help measure biomass for the blue carbon project. While conducting fieldwork, we noticed an increase in biodiversity, mostly in bird species like pelicans, herons, and more. That is the main change I have observed in the year I've been here. I was here last April for the arrival of the flamingos!"

San Crisanto

Bruno Velarde, Sustainable Development Consultant

"At the beginning, we attended a course on standards by the Climate Action Reserve. Then we adapted the Mexican Forest Protocol. Slowly, the methodology evolved to better understand how to measure mangroves. We learned a lot, and the whole process began because we were able to assist our mangroves by stimulating water circulation and mangrove nutrition. Our nitrogen source comes from biodiversity, which is essential for the overall functioning of the ecosystem."

San Crisanto

Armando Sanchez, Maldonado, Ejido Treasurer  

"The arrival of flamingos has really instigated eco-tourism in the area. It was a beautiful thing to see. People visit from everywhere and are interested not only in seeing the mangroves but also participating in conversation, learning about coconut products, participating in workshops, and becoming involved with environmental education. Before working with Climate Action Reserve, we used to go and do the work ourselves with the university students. We learned how to measure mangroves, do biomass inventory, and now we do it ourselves. I think the project changed the community in a lot of positive ways. The Ejido is still motivated to continue developing the project."