The natural world is fast disappearing, the mangrove forests that once spanned from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Mexico are now almost completely gone, disappearing faster than the average rate of forests around the world.
This loss of mangroves was driven largely by land conversion for agriculture but also by climate change and the rising sea levels. According to science.org the rising sea levels could wipe out mangroves by 2050 if greenhouse gasses continue at their current rates.
But mangrove trees are essential in preventing their own extinction as they can capture and store an astonishing amount of carbon each year, which is why it is vital that we try to protect and plant them.
What are mangrove plants?
Mangroves are a type of tropical plant found in the coastal intertidal zones in over 118 tropical and subtropical countries in the world. There are over 80 types of mangroves species globally and they all thrive in salty and low oxygen environments. They are one of the few species of tree that can tolerate saltwater as they have evolved to filter out the majority of the salt from the water that their dense roots are submerged in. These tangles of roots give the mangroves the illusion that they are propped on stilts above the water but this is what allows them to withstand the rise and fall of tidal water.
Why are mangrove forests important?
Mangroves are essential for many reasons;
- They are a natural coastal defense.
The dense roots provide a strong barrier against floods and storm surges, and these roots also trap harmful sediment and prevent it from reaching local coral reefs. Mangroves provide protection from severe weather events for a large number of the estimated 2.4 billion people who live within 100km of a coast.
- They are hotspots of biodiversity.
The mangrove ecosystems provide a home to a wide variety of wildlife, both below and above the waterline, including fish, crabs, turtles and nesting birds. When mangrove forests are destroyed habitats are lost and many species are made vulnerable to extinction.
- They are vital for millions of peoples survival.
People who live around mangroves depend on them for their livelihoods, such as fishing but also for their own shelter, food, fire and water. The wood of mangrove trees is tough against rotting and insect infection so is a valuable tool for construction. Mangroves contribute to the alleviation of poverty in less developed areas.
- They are incredible at storing carbon.
….Mangroves carbon capture
The exact amount of carbon that mangroves store depends on the species and the conditions in which they grow. However, mangrove plants are all staggering carbon sinks. Coastal mangrove forests store more carbon than any other forest on earth and each plant can store up to 5 times more carbon per hectare than other northern hemisphere trees.
Mangroves are a coastal ecosystem which are highly effective at sequestering carbon, the carbon that is captured by these coastal ecosystems is called ‘blue carbon’. Blue carbon ecosystems capture carbon dioxide and store it in their leaves, branches, roots and soils.
In its first year of life a mangrove will remove apporixmatley 5.9 kg of carbon and in its entire lifespan over 750kg.
Globally mangroves are estimated to store over 6.4 billion tonnes of carbon in their soil which is an enormous amount, making them highly effective at reducing climate change and preventing their own extinction due to its effects.
At SKOOT we plant our Mangroves at our designated site, Tudor Creek, in Kenya. We plant with the help of Eden Reforestation. Eden hires people from local communities to plant these trees, helping alleviate the poverty in the local area whilst also helping the planet.
With SKOOT you can help rebuild the mangrove tree ecosystem and do your part in helping to build a cleaner and greener world. Visit our SKOOT shop to begin planting mangroves today.