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6 Reasons why Mangroves Matter

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

Mangrove trees and shrubs grow in coastal intertidal zones. Mangrove forests grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures. Many mangrove forests can be recognized by prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides and slow the movement of tidal waters.

Typical dense mangrove forest

Here are just a few reasons we should care about mangroves – and invest in protecting them:

1. Biodiversity

Home to an incredible array of species, mangroves are biodiversity hotspots. They provide nesting and breeding habitat for fish and shellfish, migratory birds, and sea turtles. An estimated 80% of the global fish catch relies on mangrove forests either directly or indirectlyindirectly thus contribute to the local abundance of seafood.seafood.

Mudskippers - The constant dwellers
Mudskippers - The constant dwellers

Mangroves also provide shelter to a range of wildlife species including deer and honey bees. Many birds depend on mangroves for part of their seasonal migrations. Even dead mangroves play an important role, providing roosting areas for bird species.

2. Livelihoods

The rural communities we work with are fishers and farmers who depend on their natural environment to provide for their families. Healthy mangrove ecosystems mean healthy fisheries from which to fish, and healthy land on which to farm.

3. Water

Mangroves are essential to maintaining water quality. With their dense network of roots and surrounding vegetation, they filter and trap sediments, heavy metals, and other pollutants. This ability to retain sediments flowing from upstream prevents contamination of downstream waterways and protects sensitive habitat like coral reefs and seagrass beds below.

4. Coastal defense

Mangroves are the first line of defense for coastal communities. They stabilize shorelines by slowing erosion and provide natural barriers protecting coastal communities from increased storm surge, flooding, and hurricanes. In 2003, it was estimated that a quarter of the world’s population lived within 100 kilometers of the coast and at 100 meters of sea level. Robust mangrove forests are natural protection for communities vulnerable both to sea level rise and the more intense and frequent weather events caused by climate change.

5. Carbon storage

Mangroves "sequester carbon at a rate two to four times greater than mature tropical forests and store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests” like the Amazon rainforest. This means that conserving and restoring mangroves is essential to fighting climate change, the warming of the global climate fueled by increased carbon emissions, that is already having disastrous effects on communities worldwide. At the same time, mangroves are vulnerable to climate change as sea level rise pushes ecosystems inland.

Mangrove forests are one of the most severely threatened and undervalued ecosystems on Earth. @grove_brand

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