“The happiest day is when our plants take,” said 41-year-old Keila Vázquez, leader of the women who now are paid $15 a day and take pride in putting their “grain of sand” into the planet’s well-being. “They are like our children.”

When a rotten egg smell rises from the mangrove swamps of southeast Mexico, something is going well. It means that this key coastal habitat for blunting hurricane impacts has recovered and is capturing carbon dioxide — the main ingredient of global warming, reports the AP.

While world leaders seek ways to stop the climate crisis at a United Nations conference in Scotland this month, one front in the battle to save the planet’s mangroves is thousands of miles (kilometers) away on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Decades ago, mangroves lined these shores, but today there are only thin green bands of trees beside the sea, interrupted by urbanized areas and reddish segments killed by too much salt and by dead branches poking from the water.

A few dozen fishermen and women villagers have made building on what’s left of the mangroves part of their lives. Their work is supported by academics and donations to environmental groups, and government funds help train villagers to organize their efforts.

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