4) Mangroves are under threat
Mangrove forests are resilient. Tropical storms, constantly changing tides – they’ve gone through a lot. But, today, mangroves are under threat nearly everywhere because of human activity.
They are disappearing even faster than inland forests, but receive little media attention. We’ve lost 50% of the world’s mangroves in the last 50 years. In Myanmar, mangrove deforestation is occurring at four times the average global rate.
The main culprit: shrimp farming.
In countries like China, Thailand, and Indonesia, mangrove forests are cleared to make room for shrimp pens. These farms are temporary, but toxic biowaste makes the area uninhabitable once the pens are removed.
Some countries are trying to conserve their mangroves, but replanting efforts often lack specialised knowledge about which species to introduce to a region. After the 2013 typhoon in the Philippine, there was a big mangrove reforestation attempt but, sadly, many ill-fitting trees died.
Other threats to mangroves come from agriculture, tourism, overfishing, and changing sedimentation due to dams and irrigation systems.
At the current rate, mangroves will be gone by 2100.
For more information on the threat to mangroves and what is being done to save them, check out the work of the Global Mangrove Alliance and the Mangrove Action Project.
5) Mangroves are highly profitable for humans
Many people who live in coastal communities rely on mangrove ecosystems for their livelihood.
Mangroves contribute to food security by supporting fisheries, and producing other products like honey, algae, fruit, salt, and leaves for livestock feed.
The trees aid in water purification and detoxify waste. Their timber can be used in construction.
The trees also provide economic value in the coastal protection they provide. As part of a wider disaster prevention strategy, mangroves add millions of dollars’ worth of protection. They save money in reduced damages from flooding and saving lives.
Many would argue that we need mangroves to survive the threat of climate change. The continuation of human life on Earth would be a pretty significant contribution from the mangrove tree.