Forests of the Tide
Mangrove forest at the sea Fish living in mangrove roots People visiting a mangrove forest

At the intersection of land and sea, mangrove forests support a wealth of life, from starfish to people,
and may be more important to the health of the planet than we ever realized. (National Geographic)

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The value of Mangrove

mangroves plant

The plants' interlocking roots stop riverborne sediments from coursing out to sea, and their trunks and branches serve as a palisade that diminishes the erosive power of waves.

The mangrove tree is a halophyte, a plant that thrives in salty conditions. It has the ability to grow where no other tree can, thereby making significant contributions that benefit the environment. Their coverage of coastal shorelines and wetlands provides many diverse species of birds, mammals, crustacea, and fish a unique, irreplaceable habitat. Mangroves preserve water quality and reduce pollution filtering suspended material and assimilating dissolved nutrients. As natural members of the estuary system, mangroves mitigate the adverse effects of development and pollution in support of higher living standard for the population.

The tree is the foundation in a complex marine food chain and the detrital food cycle. Many of these species, whose continued existence depends on thriving mangroves, are endangered or threatened. It has been estimated that 75% of the game fish and 90% of the commercial species in certain areas rely on the mangrove system. The value of red mangrove prop root habitat for a variety of fishes and invertebrates has been quantitatively documented.

nypa fruticans wurmba

Researchers at the Department of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering in Bangladesh found, Nypa fruticans wurmb showed significant anti-hyperglycemic activity on glucose.

It is also confirmed that several mangrove species have medical values. Doctors Health Press published in October 2011 says, "researchers have discovered a potentially valuable health breakthrough about this mangrove palm. Traditionally, this tree is well-known by local practitioners who use it to treat for various health complaints. For their study, the research team investigated the anti-hyperglycemic and pain relieving potential of a leaf and stem extract of Nypa fruticans wurmb. The researchers also found that Nypa fruticans Wurmb showed significant anti-hyperglycemic activity on glucose."

Mangrove has in addition to a number of benefits, capacity to mitigate Green House Gases (GHG) by representing a significant capacity in slowing global warming combined with international tree planting initiatives, in focus of discussions at the UN supported Rio+20 in June 2012. Green House Gases greatly affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would average about 33°C colder than the present average of 14°C.

mangroves cut for fish drying

Mangroves cut for the purpose of fish drying in Myanmar, shows that despite the increasing awareness regarding value and importance of the plant, destruction continues.

Despite increasing awareness regarding value and importance, the destruction of mangrove forest continues to take place in many parts of the world. A case in point is Myanmar which has lost 75% of its original mangrove cover. This has a damaging effect on coastal areas. It also exposes the environment to greater destruction from cyclones and tidal waves. Lives and properties could have been saved in 2008 from destruction of cyclone "Nagrishad" if the original mangrove cover has been intact. It is also reported that areas with mangrove cover suffered little or no damage by the tsunami in South Asia in 2004.

Worldview’s research project in Myanmar in cooperation with Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Pathein University and Myek University, aims at a national plan for restoration of mangrove forests in all coastal areas of the country. The project is funded by Letten Foundation, Norway. Worldview is also following up mangrove projects in Gambia and other countries, as part of its global efforts in Adaptation to Climate Change.

100 Million Will Die from Climate Change by 2030

A new report commissioned by 20 different governments states that more than 100 million people will die by 2030 if nothing is done to tackle climate change. Global economic growth will also be cut by 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP). The report was authored by the humanitarian organization DARA.