“Each country in this region is trying to keep double-digit growth, so they have to look at how the economy grows, and sometimes it’s about investment in land and increasing productivity,” said Thibault Ledecq, regional forest coordinator at the WWF’s Greater Mekong Program in Phnom Penh, in a Skype call. Overall, Schwarz said that it will be important in future studies to examine the role of the different species-specific responses to mangrove forest loss in order to evaluate the future extent and diversity of mangrove forests and to help protect these vulnerable ecosystems. Mangroves, like the ones pictured here from the Magdalena delta, Colombia, have dense roots that allow them to trap mud more effectively. Seymour, who authored the 2016 book “Why Forests? November 13, 2020. Böer said he recently visited Ranong and Myeik along with experts and policymakers from Myanmar, Thailand and international conservation organizations. Vietnam, for example, faces threats from both rising sea levels and more frequent typhoons. Photos by Barend van Maanen Another third is expected to disappear by 2030. Major tourism developments have been proposed on its fringes, but as of now it provides a striking green contrast to the nearby urban sprawl on satellite images. Reforestation of mangrove species, banning on illegal charcoal production and deactivation of non-profitable aquaculture ponds are some of the key factors that are believed to have caused a reduction in mangrove loss in recent years in Cambodia. “Thailand used to lose a lot of mangrove due to wood cutting some decades ago. You can find him on Twitter at @miketatarski.Â. The unique natural resources of the Florida coast have spawned a booming economy enjoyed by both residents and tourists. While harvesting has taken place for centuries, in some parts of the world it is no longer sustainable, threatening the future of the forests. “So it would be possible for them [farmers] to grow mangroves, though they cannot be eaten, so that is another problem.”. By far the greatest threat to the world's mangrove forests is the rapidly expanding shrimp aquaculture industry. Nargis was the deadliest natural disaster in Myanmar’s history, causing at least 138,000 deaths. Why Now? Last year a Myanmar Times investigation found that charcoal production was on the rise in Myeik, with the product being shipped to cities in Myanmar, as well as illegally exported to Thailand in unrecorded quantities. Both Thailand and Myanmar have experienced devastating flooding in recent years thanks to extreme rain events and storms. These threats compound those already being felt, including the widespread conversion of mangrove to aquaculture. An example of what is lost when mangroves are deforested can be found in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta. About the reporter: Michael Tatarski is Editor-in-Chief of the Saigoneer and a Vietnam-based freelance journalist. This mangrove forest expansion also led to a loss in mangrove diversity, showing that mangrove expansion doesn’t always mean the conservation of mangrove diversity. These were run both in the absence of and the presence of anthropogenic, or human-made, barriers that would impede landward migration. These forests play a huge role in mitigating effects of climate change as well, Seymour said: “They store a large amount of carbon and, like peat swamps, because they provide an anaerobic environment where organic matter doesn’t completely decay underwater without oxygen, you have carbon that is not only stored in the vegetation of a mangrove swamp, but also stuck in the mud, so to speak.”. Hurricane Donna, in 1960, damaged an area of 100,000 acres of the Mangrove zone of South Florida. The first step would be to create the actual documents needed to comply with these regulations. A multi-partner initiative to build a better knowledge-base, strengthen empowerment and enhance governance for coastal ecosystem management in the Greater Indian Ocean Region Such a development is still in the very early stages, however. Threats for the future The source of the most serious threats to mangroves is increasing human population density. Mangroves can withstand flooding by tides and capture sediment to raise the soil in which they grow, but the trees cannot survive if they are underwater for too long, which is why the combination of sea level rise and the lowering sediment supply from rivers pose a serious threat. UD Assistant Professor Christian Schwarz is part of an international research team which developed the computer model that looked at how the interaction between multiple mangrove species and different environmental conditions shape diversity and vulnerability under different sea level rise and sediment conditions. Designed for the professional or specialist in marine science, coastal zone management, biology, and related disciplines, this work will appeal to those not only working to protect mangrove forests, but also the surrounding coastal areas of all types. It examined the effectiveness of Thailand’s biosphere reserve and what lessons can be applied to Myanmar’s mangroves, with officials from the latter country expected to push for more protection of these areas as a result. She and her team hope to create a sustainable charcoal value chain in line with regulations. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Three major intact mangrove areas are located in Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. “Coastal squeeze drastically removes the area covered by mangroves and consequently their benefits as coastal protection or carbon sequestration.”. “We want to suggest the establishment of floating artificial mangroves so that people can be encouraged to use these mangroves for the legal harvest of [fuel wood from] artificially produced mangroves, and then that can turn away from the illegal production of charcoal in natural mangroves,” Böer said. Future of Mangroves Abhijit Mitra* Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta, India A vast majority of the human population in the Planet Earth lives in the coastal zone and local resources like mangroves are the primary sources of their livelihood. Mangroves are essential to maintaining water quality. Mangrove forests provide a multitude of environmental and economic benefits to coastal systems around the world such as providing habitats for a variety of species and serving an important role in carbon sequestration. Fuelwood and charcoal are main focal points of GERES’s work in Cambodia, though Nivollet said charcoal producers have largely moved away from the country’s small remaining mangrove forests north of Sihanoukville, a beach city undergoing explosive, unchecked growth through massive Chinese investment. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), when the cyclone made landfall the delta featured less than half of the mangroves present 30 years prior, when these forests spanned more than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles). “These roots allow them to catch most of the sediment, which can even lead to the landward mangrove portion being cut off from sediment supply and diversity loss. Based on available evidence, of all the climate change outcomes, relative sea-level rise may be the greatest threat to mangroves. Thus, human-made structures are predicted to be detrimental to mangrove forests under the scenario. “Future management strategies need to weigh the loss of coastal mangroves and their inherent functions such as coastal protection and biodiversity conservation with the costs of mitigation strategies as restoring sediment delivery to coasts or providing upland accommodation space, which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.” The problem they are encountering is that applying to become a legal producer involves paying numerous royalties, fees and permit costs, disincentivizing the process of becoming legitimate. Myanmar, for its part, is considering establishing a conservation area around the mangroves near Myeik, whether that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a geopark or a RAMSAR Wetland Conservation site. The warning comes in a study published today (18 July) by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which says some of the region’s islands could lose half of their mangroves by 2100. If you value this objective and impact-driven journalism, please consider becoming a sustaining member. In the 1970s it was the most densely forested area on Earth. However, climate change poses a large threat to mangroves, according to recent findings from a World Bank Group working paper. Even the forestry administration people have no idea how to respect the law, so of course they can’t enforce it.”. With their dense network of roots and … “But mangrove forests, in particular, serve a variety of functions that are underappreciated and that are disproportionately important both to local communities and at the global scale.”. Future threats to mangrove forests. Mangrove deforestation is particularly devastating given the vital ecological role these forests play for surrounding communities. Loss of trees ranged from 25% to 100% from shearing the trunks above ground, complete overwash of islands and prop root damage from marl and fine organic matter coating the roots. For example, UNESCO is currently working with the University of New South Wales in Sydney to test the seaworthiness of floating mangrove plantations, which would likely be placed next to existing mangrove forests. Nivollet’s vision is for people living in community forest areas to produce firewood through sustainable forest management practices. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this article. “We have an abundance of seawater in the world, and mangroves are halophytes, or salt plants,” Böer said. One of the novelties of this study is that there hasn’t been much research on mangrove diversity and how the different species react to different environmental conditions brought on by sea level rise. “That includes agricultural development, that includes the establishment of shrimp farms and other coastal development projects.”. Phone: 302-831-2792. The 300-square kilometer (116-square-mile) Ranong Biosphere Reserve is in Thailand, just below Myanmar’s southern tip on the Kra Isthumus. This decline has occurred over the last 50 years. Each scenario indicated some problems, but also some hope, for the mangroves. The sturdy root systems of mangrove trees help form a natural … “The issue is that the illegal charcoal production in Myanmar has increased since charcoal production from the mangroves in Thailand has ended,” Böer said. In southern Vietnam, the 750-square kilometer (290-square-mile) Can Gio Biosphere Reserve lies outside Ho Chi Minh City. While the trial in Qatar was a success, funding has not been secured to expand the technology to other mangrove regions. Benno Böer, chief of natural sciences at UNESCO’s office in Bangkok, explained by phone that mangrove forests are largely shrinking everywhere they are found, with the exception of Eritrea, Abu Dhabi and Australia. While fuelwood production no longer appears to be a significant threat to Cambodia’s limited remaining mangroves, GERES is working on a pilot scheme for fuelwood production that could serve as a model in countries like Myanmar, which are struggling to maintain their mangrove forests. “Illegal logging in mangrove forests and wetlands is not a big problem in Vietnam at the moment.”. Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. Post navigation ← Previous News And Events Posted on December 2, 2020 by In addition to providing habitats for a variety of species and serving an important role in carbon sequestration, mangrove forests also act as a natural coastal protection, stabilizing the coastline and serving as one of the first lines of defense against storms for coastal communities. We review the state of knowledge of mangrove vulnerability and responses to predicted climate change and consider adaptation options. In the absence of a human-made tidal barrier, however, mangrove species can remain stable if sufficient landward habitat is available. Across the Greater Mekong, rapid economic growth has dramatically altered natural ecosystems, with forests, including mangroves, often bearing the brunt of industrialization and urbanization. Poorer Myanmar and Cambodia, on the other hand, have not electrified all of their territory. Christian Schwarz, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware, is a part of the international research team together with Utrecht University and the University of Exeter which developed the computer model. The simulations include interactions among tides, mud transport and, for the first time, multiple mangrove species. By protecting mangroves, we can help protect the future of our planet. We’ve cleared mangrove forests and wetlands to make way for resorts, harbors, roads, city expansion, and industry -- losing all the benefits they provide to both humans and wildlif… We don’t want to damage the people who are living on charcoal production.”. Mangrove forests, found around tropical and subtropical shorelines, provide a multitude of environmental and economic benefits to coastal systems around the world. THREATS TO MANGROVES. Every day, Mongabay reporters bring you news from nature’s frontline. They are a natural coastal defence. “Infrastructure and agribusiness will continue to be major drivers of deforestation, and wood consumption is only increasing year after year,” he said. Research is also underway to determine the financial costs and scalability of floating mangroves. Pressures like population growth and sea level rise are pushing in on the Sundarbans’ forests from all sides. As described in the previous section, conversion of mangrove habitat to agriculture and aquaculture is a major factor in mangrove loss. Such functions are particularly vital in the Greater Mekong, where climate change is expected to severely impact coastal regions and major cities. Hundreds of thousands of acres of lush wetlands have been cleared to make room for artificial ponds that are densely stocked with shrimp. December 3, 2020. natural threats to mangroves Appreciation of the financial contribution of mangroves … Mangrove forests also act as a natural coastal protection, stabilizing the coastline and serving as one of the first lines of defense against storms for coastal communities. This is important because it shows that mangrove coverage can increase despite sea level rise if the sediment supply is sufficient and landward accommodation space is available. Alleged gov’t-linked land grabs threaten Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, Fueled by impunity, invasions surge in Brazil’s Indigenous lands, Chinese demand and domestic instability are wiping out Senegal’s last forests, Solomon Islands environmental defender faces life sentence for arson charge, ‘Tamper with nature, and everyone suffers’: Q&A with ecologist Enric Sala, New paper highlights spread of organized crime from global fisheries, Study: Chinese ‘dark fleets’ illegally defying sanctions by fishing in North Korean waters, Game changer? In addition to the benefits they provide when it comes to fishing, storm protection and carbon sequestration, mangroves may actually expand amid rising sea levels. Transport of oxygen to underground roots decades, for charcoal production and for other reasons, Böer! Are sheltered by coral reefs killed by climate change future threats to mangroves a large threat to mangroves the. 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