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Magical Mangroves

Magical Mangroves, Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

On 26 July each year,  UNESCO celebrates the International Day for the Conservation of the
Mangrove Ecosystem with the aim of raising awareness about mangrove ecosystems and promoting their sustainable management and conservation.

Mangrove tree sea

Mangrove forests can be found all around Bawah Reserve, so this is a great opportunity for us to
demystify these ecologically fabulous forests that connect land and sea, nature, and humans. Here
are our answers to some frequently Googled questions.

 

What are mangroves?

mangroves batu tokong, Bawah Reserve

Mangroves are forests of trees and shrubs whose long, strong roots have the unique ability to
filter saltwater through their roots, enabling them to survive and thrive in harsh coastal
conditions.

 

Where are mangroves found?


According to Wikipedia, approximately 75% of the world’s mangroves are found in just 15
countries. Asia has the largest share (42%), followed by Africa (21%), Northern, Central
America and the Caribbean (15%), Oceania (12%), and South America (11%).  

 

How do mangroves benefit humans?

planting new mangroves Anambas Indonesia
Mangrove forests are extremely productive ecosystems, providing critical services that benefit all
of us. Rural communities often depend on their natural environment to provide for their families,
and most communities in the Anambas rely on fishing. Healthy mangrove ecosystems mean
healthy fisheries and healthy farmlands.

 

 

What is the environmental importance of mangroves?

Mangrove environmental importance

Mangroves play an essential role in maintaining water quality. With their dense network of
interwoven roots, working together with the surrounding vegetation, they filter and trap
sediments, heavy metals, and other pollutants.

This ability to retain sediments flowing from upstream prevents contamination of downstream waterways and protects sensitive habitats like coral reefs and seagrass beds below.  For another, they are vital repositories of blue carbon – meaning the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. These ecosystems sequester and store large quantities of blue carbon in both the plants and the sediment below. Mangroves sequester carbon at a rate two to four times greater than mature tropical forests and store 3 to 5 times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests like the Amazon rainforest. This means that conserving and restoring mangroves is essential to fighting climate change.

 

What kinds of wildlife are found in mangrove forests?

emerald dove bird at Bawah Reserve
Mangroves are home to an incredible array of species, making them true biodiversity hotspots.
They provide nesting and breeding habitat for fish and shellfish, migratory birds, bats and sea
turtles. An estimated 80% of the global fish catch relies on mangrove forests either directly or
indirectly.

 

Do mangroves smell?


Just like compost, the organic matter and nutrients in the mud and roots of mangroves can emit
an odour as they break down.

 

How long do mangrove trees live?

Mangroves in water at Bawah Reserve
That depends on the species. In good conditions, untouched by humans,  some mangrove trees
can last for hundreds of years.

 

Why are mangroves being destroyed?


Mangroves produce good wood for fires and are often chopped down for this purpose. They are
also used for building and development projects. Even worse, plastic debris and other waste can
get caught up in the roots and strangle the mangrove tree to death.

 

Why does it matter if mangroves are destroyed?

Man planting mangroves in the Anambas

In this era of climate change and rising sea levels, mangroves can provide the first line of defence
against extreme weather patterns such as hurricane winds, freak waves, and flooding. For
humans, this means protection from the devastation that natural disasters can inflict. What’s
more, preventing or slowing erosion contributes to stabilising our shorelines and keeping
vulnerable coastal communities safe.  Follow the Anambas Foundation for the work they are doing in restoring mangroves in the Anambas. 

 

 

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