What is the lifespan of Mangroves & what happens to the carbon they store when they die?

Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read

In this blog we spend some time exploring Mangrove trees,  the truly unique and fascinating plants that have the ability to survive in some of the most challenging environments on earth.

They possess natural superpower, playing a vital role in the health of our planet.

But how long do they live for, how much carbon do they sequester in their lifetime, and where does it go when they die?

#1 The Lifespan of Mangrove Trees

Mangrove trees have a long life span, standing at approximately 100 years with a maturation period of 10-20 years. This lifespan is particularly remarkable due to the harsh conditions they grow in. 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.

#2 The Importance of Mangrove Trees  

It is great news for our environment that mangroves have such a long life span as they are an essential part of our ecosystems. They are a natural coastal defense with the strong roots providing a barrier against floods and storm surges. The roots also capture harmful sediment before it can reach local fast fading 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.

Additionally, mangrove forests are hotspots of biodiversity providing a home to a variety of both land and water wildlife. As well as being vital for wildlife mangroves are also essential for millions of peoples survival. Offering materials to make shelter, build fires and catch food for locals. These forests contribute to the alleviation of poverty in lesser developed areas.  

Many mangroves have a unique reproductive system where they begin growing new trees from seeds which remain attached to the parent mangrove tree until they grow up to almost a foot long. These seedlings then drop off the tree and float into the water, later settling into the mudbank to continue their maturation process. This unique process means that the seeds can disperse into new areas and begin creating a mangrove forest. From a single seed a rich ecosystem can be born, helping to reverse the effects of deforestation.

A picture from our planting partner Eden Reforestation

#3 Mangroves Carbon Sequestration Abilities

Their most valuable asset is their carbon sequestration power. According to a study by the Nature Conservancy, "mangrove forests can store up to five times more carbon per hectare than tropical rainforests." The carbon that is captured is stored in the leaves, branches, roots and soil of the mangrove ecosystem.

In its first year of life a mangrove will remove approximately 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 which is why we plant them as a carbon solution here at SKOOT.  

#4 What Happens to the Carbon when the Mangrove Dies?

Due to the fact mangroves store a lot of their carbon in the soil and sediment when the trees die the carbon can remain in the ground for a millenia. This is different to most rainforest trees which store the carbon in their trunk, releasing it back into the atmosphere when they die.

Mangrove trees are truly magical plants, visit SKOOT.eco to learn more or even begin planting your own today.  

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Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read