The Lagoon System of Alvarado (Veracruz) was traditionally a coal production area with mangrove wood. Currently, communities can recover this activity, under an efficient, sustainable and legal production approach. To this end, a series of participatory workshops were held to promote this added value opportunity.

To achieve an efficient, sustainable and legal mangrove coal production in the Alvarado Lagoon System (SLA), it is necessary to build local capacities through workshops and the exchange of successful community experiences. Thus, as part of the IKI project “Restoration of mangrove forest landscape“, Pronatura invited the expert trainer Olegario Velazco Cansino from “La Solución Somos Todos” (El Paraíso, Tabasco). This community has developed sustainable silviculture in mangroves and coal production for more than 15 years. The expert facilitated a comprehensive training in La Mojarra (Acula, Veracruz), between April 10th and 17th, 2018. Two main sessions with more than twenty participants were conducted, in addition to the continuous monitoring of the process by community leaders.



The motivation of these workshops comes from the local context, where illegal mangrove wood is still available in the market at very low prices, making legal timber uncompetitive. Coal is identified as a relevant window of opportunity for communities with harvesting permits (Management Units for the Conservation of Wildlife). This product can be made from leftover wood or chipping, in addition to having added value potential. The production of this coal also has a local historical background, since it was traditionally produced in communities with ovens made of mud and grass. However, the production had several disadvantages, for being very slow, laborious and lacking homogeneous quality.



Thus, for this training process two furnaces were built, improved by the experience of the communities in Tabasco, which require less work and allow to maintain a control of the simple burning process. The methodology and best practices for the use of the furnace generate better yields, with high quality charcoal which is competitive in the market. In addition to the technical aspects of the production, the training seeks to guide SLA communities towards strict administrative, financial and legal control.

During the workshops, the complete mangrove coal production process was carried out, which included: the preparation of the wood; the counting of wood that enters; the efficient arrangement of wood in the oven; switched on; control and surveillance; switched off; extraction and quality control; as well as finally the registration in journals of the production and sales.

The elaboration sequence is described in the following video.




From a community experience, the training allowed the participants to visualize the benefits that could be obtained from the production of mangrove coal. Although it is an incipient process for the communities of the lagoon system, there was growing interest in this alternative, that represents a more efficient and sustainable production approach.

This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of Germany and is implemented by  Pronatura Veracruz A.C.

This article is from Pronatura Veracruz A.C. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of the author.