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Maria Jesus Rodriguez Valle, 46, wearing wetsuit boots she fixed with sewing patches at the restoration site in Progreso, Yucatán, Mexico on November 05, 2023. Las Chelemeras are forced to improvise because they have insufficient funds to purchase new boots. Las Chelemeras is a group of 14 women of Mayan origin, age 33 to 82, in the fishing village of Chelem - 32 miles from Mérida - who, since 2010, have worked to restore and protect their local mangrove forests in the Yucatán Peninsula. To date, Las Chelemeras have contributed to the reforestation of approximately 50 hectares (124 acres) of mangrove across two sites. Mangroves are one of the world’s most important vital ecosystems. They provide community livelihoods, function as biodiversity hotspots, and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Most importantly, by area, mangroves capture and store at least four times as much carbon dioxide as tropical rainforests. But they are threatened by human activity, development and climate change. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Over 20 percent of mangroves are estimated to have been lost globally over the past 40 years.” To make up for this loss, people attempt to restore mangroves all around the world. Photography by Bénédicte Desrus