What are Mangroves and How are they beneficial for the planet?
Distinctive trees that grow near the sea and can tolerate the presence of saltwater are mangrove plants. It can be a single plant or a community of plants that grow in tidal and intertidal areas. With strong roots, they have the potential to ground themselves in muddy water. These plants have a technique to cope with the salt present in seawater. Some plants filter the water through roots, whereas some release the salt through glands on the leaves.
Mangrove forests can have different species of plants, marine life and terrestrial life. There are 80 unique species of mangrove trees. They hold the capability to grow in low-oxygen soil and moving waters. Mangrove forests form a strong border and filter the seawater. Some plants also hoard fresh water in their leaves.
Explore this blog to learn how Mangrove Forests can benefit humanity and help us deal with climate crises. Here are four benefits of mangroves to the planet -
They provide habitat & refuge to wildlife
Globally we deforest 10 million hectares of forest every year. This results in the loss of habitat for many wildlife. On the other hand, mangrove forests nourish the land with greenery. Such space invites multiple species like birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates. Marine life thrives near the roots, and terrestrial wildlife survives in the drier parts of mangroves.
You will be surprised to learn that mangroves provide habitat to 341 threatened species worldwide. The species left stranded due to deforestation and loss of habitat due to climate change find refuge in such mangroves.
Mangroves are highly effective carbon sinks
According to NCEI, March 2023 was the world's second warmest March in a 174-year record. It shows the increase in greenhouse gases and their impact on the atmosphere. Increasing carbon in the environment results in sudden and extreme climate changes. Mangroves can help in reducing this impact through their ability to absorb carbon.
Mangrove forests have an unimaginable capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Scientific studies have shown that mangroves store up to 5 times more organic carbon than tropical upland forests. They trap the carbon in flooded soils and hold it for many years. The buried carbon under the water is called blue carbon.
Mangrove forest provides livelihood to the nearby communities
The presence of mangrove forests provides a source of employment in multiple ways. The two main livelihood opportunities include fisheries and eco-tourism. The surrounding communities depend on fisheries for food security and to generate income.
The biodiversity, habitat and beauty of mangroves bring tourists to such places. It helps the surrounding community in generating an extra source of income. With tourism comes the need for a place to stay, eat and hang out. It enhances the scope for new developments and further employment opportunities.
Mangrove forests protect nearby communities from adverse climate situations
Mangroves protect the nearby areas by providing natural infrastructure. It prevents erosion and absorbs the impacts of hurricanes and storms. The developed roots strengthen the soil quality and interrupt the rising water and waves during the storms.
Mangrove forests act as a protective shield against extreme weather changes occurring due to climate change. Mangrove trees grow between the sea and land to form a boundary. Due to the anchoring of deep roots, they act as a protective barrier against flood waves.
What is damaging the mangroves and already-developed forests?
Mangrove forests are a blessing to communities residing near the sea. It not only supports them but addresses the global problem of climate change. With an increase in population on the coastline, mangrove forests are cleared to make buildings and for farming. Moreover, plastic waste and litters starve the mangrove forests of oxygen by covering their roots.
Our choices determine the surroundings we intend to keep in the future. Saying no to plastics and choosing sustainable alternatives can be a huge step towards preserving mangrove forests and other natural habitats.
We need them more than they need us!
Initially, it might seem that we are saving the mangrove forests. However, the truth is that we need their presence in our lives more than they need us. Their ability to support the local community and protect us from sudden climate changes is immense. Their absence might cause much more harm to humanity in the coming future.
It is the right time to understand our relationship with nature and respect its presence in our lives. Take a step towards plastic-free living with awenest and let the plants, marine life and all other beings be free from your burden of plastic waste.
Brinda shah is a freelance content writer. she is a ca turned into a writer who loves to read, write & meditate. you can connect with her on linkedin and on instagram