Young Climate Voices
YCV Research Series
WHY ARE MANGROVES AREAS IMPORTANT?
Mangroves are tropical trees that thrive in conditions most timber could never tolerate — salty, coastal waters, and the interminable ebb and flow of the tide. With the ability to store vast amounts of carbon, mangrove forests are key weapons in the fight against climate change, but they are under threat worldwide.
Africa particularly is at risk, it houses 15% of all mangrove areas in the world, a fall from 19% in the early 2000s. The continent is losing precious mangrove areas, which are vital for marine nurseries. Mangrove forests — specifically, their thick, impenetrable roots — are vital to shoreline communities as natural buffers against storm surges, an increasing threat in a changing global climate with rising sea levels. Their dense roots help bind and build soils. Their above-ground roots slowly down water flows and encourage sediment deposits that reduce coastal erosion.
Africa's major mangrove forests have been decimated in recent decades due to logging, fish farming, coastal development, and pollution, leading to increased blue carbon emissions and greater exposure of vulnerable coastal communities to flooding and other threats to livelihood.
There is a growing focus from African communities and organisations on mangrove rehabilitation and restoration.