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

emocratic Republic of Congo, Vietnam, Sierra Leone and El Salvador each lost more than 40% of their 1980 coverage by 2005.

In Australia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Suriname, and French Guiana, the extent of loss has been kept to less than 1% over the same period.

"The variation between countries can be mostly attributed to national policies and legal protection," says co-author Zafar Adeel, director of UNU-INWEH.

Among other benefits:

  • Mangrove forests serve as highly effective carbon stores and sinks. Alongside living biomass, mangrove soils are carbon-rich, sequestering carbon over millennial timescales.
  • Nearshore fisheries among mangroves are well documented and of critical importance to many communities, but many large-scale fisheries, such as commercial offshore shrimp fisheries are also highly dependent on mangroves as nursery or breeding grounds.
  • Mangroves provide rot resistant, high value timber and excellent fuelwood which has been harvested in sustainable silviculture programmes in some countries for over 120 years.
  • In many settings mangroves act as a form of natural coastal defense, reducing erosion, attenuating waves and even reducing the height of storm surges. Over the longer term, they can also help to build or maintain elevation in the face of rising seas.

The report says economic valuations of mangrove ecosystem goods and services provide some of the most powerful arguments for effective mangrove management.

"A growing number of economic valuations are being conducted and most reveal the considerable benefits, even from single services such as fisheries," says Dr. van Lavieren. "When the full suite of ecosystem services from mangroves can be assessed the arguments for maintaining healthy mangrove forests are usually compelling."

Specific examples of the economic value of healthy mangroves include prawns harvested in Australia across the wide shallow co
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
United Nations University
Source:Eurekalert  

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