More About Mangroves
WHERE DO MANGROVES LIVE?
Mangroves live in tropical and subtropical areas. The trees grow in coastal and delta areas, and in difference to dry land trees, they live on very fine soil made of sediments in the area between the ocean or brackish water and the land. These coastal marvels are constantly exposed to not only tidal changes but also washed through with water and sediments from the mountains, oceans or rivers.
TRAPPING AND USING THE SEDIMENT
Since Mangroves live on such fine ground they have developed a shallow root system that they use not only as stability but also to trap new sediment. When they trap new sediment they are constantly building themselves higher and higher up at the same time as they are pushing old sediment lower and lower down, together with the CO2 they’ve trapped.
EXTRAORDINARY STORING OF CO2
Like dry land trees, Mangroves photosynthesize and absorb CO2 through their leaves, before dropping the leaves to the ground. But here comes another uniqueness of Mangroves. The carbon components in their fallen leaves get trapped and pushed down into the soft soil, instead of being recycled into the tree’s own ECO system. This ability causes the Mangrove to absorb and store 5 times more CO2 than the average dry land three. Furthermore, the old sediments underneath Mangrove not only store carbon components from the tree itself but also traps the carbon compounds from the mountains and rivers.
Rainforest trees have deep penetrating roots that create oxygen chambers deep into the soil. In comparison, the Mangrove root system is very shallow, causing them to leave CO2 in the soil. The CO2 makes the soil extremely low in oxygen, or anoxic. Because the soil is anoxic the CO2 is not oxidized and released by microorganisms and therefore the CO2 is stored for as long as the tree is alive.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE TREE DIES?
If you cut down a Mangrove you expose the area and soil to both erosions and rapid wetting and drying. Eventually, this causes the stored carbon components to break free and rise back up into the atmosphere again.
We have already lost over 35% of the world’s mangrove trees over the last 30 years, continuing to lose a further 1% every year. In Myanmar, only 20% of the original mangrove cover remains. Continuing at this rate, the vital delta region will be almost or fully Mangrove free by 2030. (NASA satellite surveillance report)
The protection of Mangroves is a comprehensive task that includes not only the preservation of the trees but also finding or creating an alternative livelihood for locals.
Today, many poor people who live in and around Mangrove areas have no other option for income than to illegally cut the trees, burn them and sell the charcoal to industry.
PROTECTING COAST AND COMMUNITIES
Mangrove serves as coastal physical barriers and buffer that can absorb and protect human lives and constructions against tidal waves and extreme weather. The value of this protection is only increasing as the weather keeps getting more extreme with global warming.
PROTECTING BIODIVERSITY AND CREATING LIVELIHOODS
In addition to exceptional CO2 absorption and storage, Mangroves serve the vital purpose of protecting and providing food for marine life. Their rare salt-tolerant roots filter the water and assimilate dissolved nutrients, reducing pollution and bettering the water quality. This quality makes Mangroves extraordinary for the foundation of complex marine food chains and for sustaining fisheries.
The exceptional trees increase marine life by approximately 50%. Let alone the forest increase biodiversity over water, such as wild elephants, dugong sea mammals and different bird species.
Communities benefit greatly from the increased populations of marine life. In addition, reforestation in Myanmar creates livelihoods within disadvantaged communities, thus planting and preserving the trees.