Mangroves are a nursery habitat, filter nutrients, stabilize sediment, prevent erosion, protect islands from storms, sequester carbon, amongst many other ecological benefits. They also supply coastal communities with important natural resources like firewood, medicine, timber, honey, and fodder for livestock.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), mangroves are estimated to provide $1.6 billion per year in ecosystem services (IUCN, 2010). Additionally, it has been argued that mangroves are more valuable economically per unit area than any other land use, including tourism, aquaculture, and agriculture (Spalding et al. 2010).
Unfortunately, the world’s mangroves are under threat. Mangrove ecosystems are rapidly degrading due to factors such as population pressures, rapid coastal development, destruction for shrimp aquaculture, rising sea levels caused by climate change and deforestation for economic purposes (Ronnback et al., 2007, D’Agnes et al., 2010, Spalding et al., 2010, IUCN, 2010). IUCN claims that more than one in six species of mangrove worldwide is in danger of extinction (2010).
We have our own restoration project going on here at MarineLab with ~80 mangroves currently planted. While we are continuing to learn the best methodology for our difficult site, some of these mangroves have definitely taken hold. Watch our little #21 grow up in the following photos. #21 was originally planted by MarineLab staff in November of 2012 and has done us proud.
D’Agnes, L., D’Agnes, H., Schwartz, J. B., Amarillo, M. L., & Castro, J. (2010). Integrated management of coastal resources and human health yields added value: A comparative study in Palawan (Philippines). Environmental Conservation, 37(4), 398-409.
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). (2010). In Mangrove Forests in Worldwide Decline. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/red_list/?5025/
Ronnback, P., Crona, B., & Ingwall, L. (2007). The return of ecosystem goods and services in replanted mangrove forests: Perspectives from local communities in Kenya. Environmental Conservation, 34(4), 313-324.
Spalding, M., Kainuma, M., & Collins, L. (2010). World Atlas of Mangroves. Washington DC: Earthscan