Mangroves and their surrounding soil are renowned for their amazing Carbon Dioxide absorption and storage capabilities. Mangrove forests are categorised as a Blue Carbon store and are recognised by scientists for their key role in mitigating climate change, storing more carbon per unit than terrestrial forests.
Mangroves store a large amount of the CO2 they draw down in the soil around them. Their complex root structures trap organic matter such as fallen leaves and branches and, overtime, the combination of salt water and trapped sediment prevents the organic matter from decaying and releasing CO2. As sediment and more materials pile up, the dead leaves and branches below remain unable to release carbon back into the atmosphere.
Importantly, if mangrove forests are damaged, or degraded, this stored CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. Projects run by our partner Worldview International Foundation work on protecting, restoring and replanting mangrove forests to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Habitat loss has been identified as the main threat to 85% of the “Threatened” and “Endangered” species on the IUCN’s Red List, which includes some mangrove species. In Myanmar, where we plant our mangroves, up to 60% of forests have been lost over the past 20 years. Protecting mangroves is essential to biodiversity as the coastal habitat is home to an array of wildlife including; Dugong (Sea Cows), Sharks and even Elephants! The mangrove roots act as a perfect nursery for baby fish, turtles and other sea creatures which helps increase fish stocks in the area, a key food source for the local communities. Not many plants can survive in areas where the saltwater meets the fresh water, and mangrove species are one of the only plants which can. These magnificent plants need this water to survive and filter the air and water, improving the quality of both. The mangroves also protect the land from soil erosion and damage from strong weather surges such as Typhoons, tsunamis and tropical storms. Adding further protection to all lives on land.
Mangrove planting and rehabilitation require the work of many people. For local communities, mangrove planting and protection can provide the local area with a variety of jobs, poverty reduction, and a sustainable income for now and the future.
The success of mangrove protection comes from employing local people who can earn a decent living wage, meaning they do not need to turn to cutting down the forests for fuel or to earn extra money. The livelihoods which previously depended on harmful and unsustainable salt and shrimp farming now rely on the survival of the mangroves for their income.
Worldview International Foundation interviewed the villagers local to their first pilot project, Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park, and found that 70% of the people lived below $1 per day. By working with Village Leaders WIF produced a plan to rapidly reduce poverty and create many job opportunities to help with this sustainable development strategy. Job opportunities have included becoming a land preparer, a mangrove nursery carer, a mangrove planter and many more!
Additionally, Women are recognised as key income generators for their families and WIF aims to improve health facilities and education for women, whilst also encouraging the women to participate in the community meetings. The women in these communities have many jobs, look after their children and the elderly in their families, so they have very full days! Worldview International Foundation is also working on plans to assist women who work by investing in daycare centres at workplaces. Furthermore, many women have headed up the foundation research for WIF and work on projects that thrive from the mangroves such as colouring clothing using the natural dyes from mangroves.