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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mangrove Forests Declining

The IUCN red list of threatened species is becoming longer every minute and the latest names to be included in this list dreaded by the environmentalist are many species of mangroves.

In a recent survey that was conducted to assess the condition of mangrove forests globally, it was found out that more than one in six species of mangroves were threatened ultimately making 11 out of the 70 mangrove species studied to be placed in the red list.

The reason quoted for their decline was coastal development, climate change, logging and agriculture.

“The potential loss of these species is a symptom of widespread destruction and exploitation of mangrove forests,” says Beth Polidoro, Research Associate of the GMSA at Old Dominion University and principal author of the study. “Mangroves form one of the most important tropical habitats that support many species, and their loss can affect marine and terrestrial biodiversity much more widely.”

Mangrove forests are an important part of the coastline. These not only form home to many varieties of fishes but also help in protecting coastal communities from damage caused by tsunami waves, storms and erosions.
Another important benefit of the mangroves is the way they can seize carbon from the atmosphere, forming source for nutrients and also helping other marine vegetations like sea grass weeds and coral reefs to survive.
What India should be concerned about is that one of the species of mangrove mentioned in the list called Sonneratia griffithii has been assigned a critically endangered status. Over the past 60 years 80 percent of the mangrove has been lost due to unplanned coastal development.
As Greg Stone, Senior Vice President of Marine Programmes at Conservation International warns, “The loss of mangroves will have devastating economic and environmental consequences. These ecosystems are not only a vital component in efforts to fight climate change, but they also protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people from extreme weather and provide them with a source of food and income.”
Image Credit
Flickr photo by brightsea

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