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Preserve the services of mangroves -- Earth's invaluable coastal forests, experts urge
Date:11/14/2012

major negative environmental impacts, including collapses in wild fisheries. In a region where fishing in and around mangroves is a critical activity providing food and income for millions of people, the socio-economic impacts of this conversion have been tremendous," adds Ms. Van Lavieren, Coastal Zones Programme Officer at UNU's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

"There is now a growing awareness of the importance of mangroves and government and community-led efforts are under way to restore or replant mangroves, and to improve legal systems to regulate future use."

Losses are being driven by a suite of other human threats as well, however, including over-harvesting and deforestation; agricultural, urban and industrial runoff; oil spills; and poorly managed dredging and coastal development.

"These practices continue to take their toll and if left unchecked will cause significant economic and ecological decline," says Dr. Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist at The Nature Conservancy and co-author of the report.

"Rare and critically important mangrove forests continue to be lost at a rate three to five times higher than that for global forests. Set against this is a growing realisation of the social and economic value of mangroves and a remarkable array of restoration efforts in many countries around the world."

Climate change will exacerbate existing pressures, the authors add. About 5 to 20% of coastal wetlands (including mangroves) will be lost through sea-level rise by 2080.

The most pronounced losses (over 20%) have occurred in the Asian and Pacific regions, followed by Central America. Limited losses have occurred in East Africa, with only an 8% decline between 1980 and 2005.

In some countries, the extent of loss has been much higher than the regional norm. For example, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that Pakistan, Honduras, the D
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
United Nations University
Source:Eurekalert  

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