From the mid 1980s the set up and expansion of intensive shrimp farms in the Muisne Canton, a coastal province of northern Esmeraldas, was strongly opposed by locals - over 25,000 inhabitants - and environmental associations engaged in defending the mangrove ecosystem. The intensive farming practices were both implemented by illegal unauthorized and legal facilities. The mangroves were the main source of livelihood for communities and residents until being almost entirely destroyed by the completion of shrimp cultivation ponds. Among the different associations, FUNDECOL was created as soon as in 1989 in order to protect the Esmeraldas’ province mangroves ecosystems. The organization was the first to coordinate the mobilization denouncing the impacts of the farms and also launching reforestation projects. The sensitization of the population about the importance of the rich ecosystem was primordial. In 1998 was also founded C-Condem.
What’s more the defenders of the mangroves have been scaling-up their level of action and mobilization, networking at all scales from local and national, to regional and international levels. The first meeting gathering communities defending mangroves from different Latin-American countries happened in 1993, in Muisne. Since 2001, the Redmanglar Internacional gathers members from ten Latin-American countries and contributes to making visible at the regional and global scales the consequences from the destruction of mangroves as a regional problematic. The international environmental NGO Greenpeace has also been engaging with FUNDECOL’s reforestation projects and the NGO has also been campaigning against the intensive shrimp farming in Ecuador and world-wide. Still Ecuadorian legislation from 2008 and 2010 legalized the industrial farming practices in mangroves areas.