Improper waste management and the increasing threat to the Aruban economy: An assessment of adverse effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the Parkietenbos mangroves of Aruba
MetadataShow full item record
Mangrove forests are valuable, highly biodiverse and robust ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecological benefits. Aruba’s mangrove forests are, however, increasingly being disturbed. The West Parkietenbos mangrove, in particular, is heavily polluted by the adjacent landfill. Anomalously low pH levels and very large volumes of wastes are pervasive throughout the West Parkietenbos. This pollution, which shows a clear spatial relationship to the location of the landfill, has profound effects on the health of the mangroves. Close to the landfill, there is a significant drop in tree growth and number of seedlings, clear signs of defoliation, and suffocation of root systems induced by waste build-up; the low pH levels slightly disappear when moving away from the landfill. As such, despite its robustness, the sustainability of the mangrove forest is endangered. Loss of the mangrove forest would directly lead to loss of habitat for a large variety of fish, birds and mammal species. Indirectly, without the filtering effect of the mangrove forest adjacent to the landfill, chemical absorption of contaminants by the mangrove forest would halt and chemicals would more freely run-off into open waters. Furthermore, plastic waste would not be caught by the mangroves, but blow into the sea, after which longshore currents would move the waste to Oranjestad and Aruba’s beaches. The tourism economy could then be severely affected. It is therefore highly recommended that the following mitigation methods are employed; in the short-term, large netting is to be erected on the southern and western sides of the Parkietenbos Landfill and Container Park to halt wind-driven migration of wastes; in the long-term, modern waste treatment facilities, such as high-heat incineration ovens which turn waste into energy, are to be installed.