Poised on the boundary between sea and land, mangrove forests are a rare and bountiful ecosystem. Their tangled roots shelter countless species of fish and crustaceans, supporting biodiversity and providing food for local communities. Their soils store vast amounts of carbon, even five times more than land-based forests, contributing to climate change mitigation. Their ranks line the coast to form a powerful coastal defence, buffering against the impacts of storm surges, tsunamis, and rising sea levels.
And yet, despite the benefits they confer, mangrove ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate. Over the past 40 years, the area covered by mangrove forests has almost halved. This represents a rate of decline three to five times faster than overall global forest loss. Protecting and restoring these natural ecosystems is crucial to combatting the three planetary crises, and to securing a healthy future for all.
Restoring mangrove ecosystems is one of many possible Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to our current woes. Wetlands of all kinds filter wastewater, forests and peatlands function as carbon sinks whilst also sustaining pollinators crucial to neighbouring crops, green spaces in our cities can help mitigate flooding and urban heat and the list goes on.
At UNEP-DHI, we realize the important role that healthy ecosystems play in safeguarding water quantity and quality and in building resilience to climate change. NbS constitute a key focus area of the Centre’s work within integrated water resources management and climate change adaptation. You can explore our resources and ongoing projects on the topic here
As we celebrate International Mangrove Day, let’s appreciate the immense value that these and other ecosystems provide to our health and wellbeing, and take action to conserve and restore them.