Our Solutions are in Nature
The Sundarbans is the world’s largest area of mangrove forest, ranging ~2.5 million acres in India and Bangladesh. Sundarbans, as the name indicates is a beautiful forest. Mangroves are a type of tropical forest that originates at the boundary of land and sea flooded regularly by tidal water.
The term ‘mangrove’ describes both the ecosystem and the plant families that have developed specialized adaptations to live in this tidal environment (Tomlinson, 1986). Mangrove ecosystems contribute to the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities. They support rich biodiversity and provide a valuable nursery habitat for fish and crustaceans. Mangroves are home to the diverse array of plants, invertebrates and abundant wildlife, both terrestrial and aquatic, an ideal habitat from tigers to crocodiles.
Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees well adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions, their entangled root system enables them to cope with salt water immersion and tides. They are adapted to the low oxygen conditions of swaps and marshes. Mangroves can be identified most readily by their roots, often seen as a tangle of roots arching up and down again as if mimicking the octopus’ limbs. The roots are a specialized fibrous root, with small openings called lenticels that help with the gas exchange process in the oxygen-poor coastal sediment.
The density of mangroves covers ~14,000 square kilometres of Earth’s surface, found in 118 countries. ~42% of the world’s mangroves are found in Asia and 21% in Africa. 95% of the world’s mangrove forests by area and 99% of mangrove species are found in the Tropics.
“Forest mangroves form some of the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on Earth. Birds roost in the canopy, shellfish attach themselves to the roots, and snakes and crocodiles come to hunt. Mangroves provide nurseries for fish; a food sources for monkeys, deer, tree-climbing crabs… and a nectar source for bats and honeybees.”Kennedy Warne, Editor, National Geographic
The coastal ecosystems of mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows capture and hold significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and ocean (blue carbon) and contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
Urbanisation, industrialisation, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents, pesticides, aquaculture and salt pans are making Mangroves the most threatened ecosystems on earth, disappearing 3-5 times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts. It is estimated that the mangrove coverage has been reduced by half in the past 40 years.
UNESCO is engaged in supporting the conservation of mangroves and sustainable development of their local communities. In 2015, UNESCO adopted to celebrate 26 July as “The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem”. To raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem” and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses. The theme for this year is “Our Solutions are in Nature”.
Mangroves act as natural coastal defence
against storm surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels and erosion.
It’s important to protect mangroves because they are difficult to replant.
No other species of tree in the world can survive in saltwater.
Our Solutions are in Nature!