On International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem (26th July) we draw attention to the remarkable eco-systems that are mangroves.
The Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands Dr Musonda Mumba attended the High-Level Forum on Mangrove Conservation Programme in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China.
At the meeting she told delegates: “Mangroves are an incredible wetland ecosystem, serving as a vital link between various coastal ecosystems. They harbour exceptional species diversity and act as a natural coastal buffer, protecting against storms and retaining runoff. “
She remarked on the jobs they support saying “approximately 4.1 million small-scale fishers rely on mangrove habitats for their livelihoods.”
Dr Mumba also said that “furthermore, mangroves are gaining recognition as crucial carbon sinks. It is estimated that these ecosystems store around 23 gigatons of CO2. Losing just 1% of remaining mangroves is equivalent to burning 520 barrels of oil. Therefore, I am pleased to see representatives from 29 Contracting Parties of the Convention on Wetlands gathered here in Shenzhen to consolidate efforts in protecting this invaluable ecosystem.”
Shenzhen is home to the proposed International Mangrove Centre (IMC). At the last meeting of the Contracting parties last year (COP14), Resolution XIV.19 was adopted paving the way to promote international cooperation through the Ramsar Regional Initiative on International Mangrove Centre. The strategic objective is to promote international collaboration and joint actions on mangrove conservation, restoration and sustainable management under the framework of the Convention on Wetlands.
Why are Mangrove forests so vital?
Natural coaster buffer
- Mangroves are a natural buffer from erosion, tsunamis, and storm-driven wind and waves.
- Mangroves are an active regulator for almost all natural processes including nutrient cycle, silt deposit, water quality and water cycle, highly-efficient carbon sink.
- Mangroves are Important habitats for species diversity.
- Communities and livelihoods: animals and humans rely on mangroves for food and natural resources.
- Mangroves create habitat that sustains the production of commercially important fish, crustaceans and molluscs that supports an estimated 4.1 million small scale fishers globally.
- Ecosystem linkages: essential components that links coastal habitats and ecosystems.
Carbon storage of mangroves and sequestration
- Due to waterlogged soil environment, mangroves are estimated to hold up to four times the amount of carbon as some other forested ecosystems (e.g. temperate and boreal forests)
- Global mangrove forests store some 22.86 Gt of CO2
- Loss of 1% of remaining mangrove (0.23 Gt of CO2) is equal to over 520 barrels of oil or annual emissions of 49 million cars in the USA.
Q & A
What are Mangroves?
Mangrove forests are formed by trees that have adapted to live in the warm intertidal areas of the world wherever waters are sufficiently calm and where there are sufficient sediments to set down roots.
Resolution VIII.32: Conservation, integrated management, and sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems and their resources
Resolution VIII.11: Additional guidance for identifying and designating underrepresented wetland types as Wetlands of International Importance
Resolution XIII.14: Promoting conservation, restoration and sustainable management of coastal blue-carbon ecosystems
Briefing Note 12: The contribution of blue carbon ecosystems to climate change mitigation
Resolution XIV.19: Proposal to establish an International Mangrove Centre (a Ramsar Regional Initiative)
Mangrove forests cover 147,000km2 (2020)
26% loss since 1980, 10% loss since 1990 (FAO)
Net loss of 3.4% since 1996 (State of the World’s Mangrove Report 2022)
Greatest losses have occurred in Southeast Asia (4.8%), and North & Central Americas and Caribbean (4.7%)
Rate of loss have greatly diminished with average losses over the last decade (0.04% per year in comparison to 2% per year in the 1980s and 1.4% per year from 1980 to 1996)
Human-driven loss represents 62% of total losses over the last decade.
Mangrove restoration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rebfGgG-y8Q&t=12s
Blue carbon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL3Ycj5L5q4