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New findings suggest concerning outlook on future of mangrove ecosystems: 'Their loss stands to be disastrous'

Mangroves play a crucial role in the reduction of global pollution.

Mangroves play a crucial role in the reduction of global pollution.

Photo Credit: iStock

Mangroves around the world are facing the risk of extinction due to rising sea levels. As natural stores of carbon, their survival is crucial to the reduction of global pollution.

What's happening?

In a new report from Phys.org, recent research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature evaluated mangroves in 36 different regions globally and found that 50% of these mangrove ecosystems are at risk of collapse.

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow along coastlines and rivers. They act as protection from soil erosion and coastal damage during storms, as Phys.org reported. However, as sea water levels continue to rise due to the global heating of the planet, as well as destruction from deforestation, development, and pollution, they are failing to be able to do their jobs.

Why is the survival of mangroves important?

Aside from protecting coastlines, mangroves also naturally store 11 billion tons of carbon, "almost three times the amount stored by tropical forests of the same size," reported Phys.org. Without intervention to reduce the loss of mangrove ecosystems, up to nearly two billion tons of carbon stored currently in mangroves could be released into the atmosphere.

Angela Andrade, the chair of the IUCN Commission on ecosystem management, stated, "Their loss stands to be disastrous for nature and people across the globe," as per Phys.org.

What's being done to conserve mangrove ecosystems?

Considering the impacts of mangrove restoration, numerous efforts all over the world are being made to restore mangrove ecosystems. A story from the Nature Conservancy follows a community of mothers in Kenya's Lamu Archipelago who plant seedlings around the coast to support local mangrove ecosystems when the tide is low.

In Mexico, a couple has been working to restore mangroves in their small fishing community, El Delgadito, by training community members on how to care for and restore mangroves. 

Efforts like these, even if small, have big impacts. For example, Pakistan has seen an increase in mangroves since 1986 thanks to constant support from government and NGOs providing education and training to ensure everyone respects and cares for mangroves.

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