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The Gap Year Blog

The Importance of Mangrove Forests

20 Apr 2020 16:15 PM
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When it comes down to important marine ecosystems, coral reefs nearly always take the front page. However, just as important are the mangrove forests. 

In fact, mangroves are extremely beneficial to coral reefs and it has been observed that reefs nearby to a mangrove forest tend to thrive better than those further away. Of course, mangroves do not just benefit coral reefs; they serve many different functions and both ecologically and economically important.

The following are examples of how a mangrove forest can benefit the local and worldwide environment:

 

1. Climate change

Blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes) can be up to 10 times more efficient than terrestrial ecosystems at absorbing and storing carbon long term, making them a critical solution in the fight against climate change.

 

2. Coastal protection

Mangrove root systems trap sediments flowing from rivers and off the land. This stabilises the coastline and prevents erosion from waves and storms.  In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from hurricanes and typhoons is much more severe. By filtering out sediments, the forests also protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered in sediment.     

 

3. Fisheries

Mangrove forests are home to a range of fish, crab and mollusc species. They serve as nurseries for many juvenile fish species, including coral reef fish. There can be as many as 25 times more fish of some species found on reefs close to as mangrove forest as opposed to reefs nearby areas where the mangrove forests have been removed. 

 

4. Timber & Plant Products

Mangrove wood is resistant to rot and insects and many coastal and indigenous communities use it for construction material as well as for fuel. Recently, the forests have also been commercially harvested for pulp, wood chip, and charcoal production.

With all of this in mind, it is important to consider the importance of mangroves in relation to conservation efforts, particularly in areas where they may be being removed. Here at Frontier Madagascar, we aim to mitigate any mangrove removal by establishing a mangrove nursery on camp where young mangroves can be grown and then transplanted into the mangrove forest in order to aid in the reestablishment of the local mangroves. 

 

By Fiona Carey - Assistant Research Officer, Frontier Madagascar

Frontier runs terrestrial and marine conservationcommunity and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!