This article was originally published on Medium's MAPA channel, written by Sumaiya Harunany.
We say run for the mangroves and we have a good reason for that!
What are Mangroves?
These are trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone, and are adapted to life in a salt water environment. There are more than 60 different species of mangrove tree, all specialized to grow along waterlogged coastlines in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Unknown to many, The Mangrove Ecosystem is one of the most resilient ecosystem with very many unique characteristics as well as the functions it serves to the environment such as:
• Their strong and complex root systems protect coastal communities and landscapes from extreme weather events, like hurricanes.
• A mangrove ecosystem is important in enhancing fishery production and since fishery is a main source of income for coastal communities, the fisheries supported by the mangrove ecosystem become an important source of livelihood.
• Mangroves protect water quality by removing nutrients and pollutants from storm water runoff before they reach seagrass habitats and coral reefs.
• Mangrove systems provide shelter to a range of wildlife species including birds, deer and honey bee
• Mangroves absorb water during heavy rains and storm surge, reducing the chances of coastal flooding
• Mangroves are able to store three to four times more carbon than the forests which are found on land and are able to store and stock pile carbon from the atmosphere during their growing period making them a very vital tool to tackle climate change.
MANGROVES AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The world is currently facing a threat of climate change. We can already see the effects like the melting Glaciers, wildfires, heatwaves., drastic changes in weather patterns, tropical cyclones and sea levels rising.
There are many ways in which the climate crisis can be tackled and one effective way is the use of NATURE BASED SOLUTIONS that is using Nature to absorb the excess carbon from the atmosphere.
Mangroves are known to be one of the best nature based solutions to mitigate the climate change because of their known quality of absorbing 4–5 times more carbon than
the mature tropical forests. The muddy soil that mangroves live in is extremely carbon rich and over time the mangroves help to not only add to this store of soil by capturing sediment but hold it and the carbon in place thus making these forests extremely valuable in tackling the climate crisis
Threats faced by Mangroves No doubt, mangroves are important to our planet. It is vital to restore and protect the Mangrove Ecosystem as they face a lot of threat.
Deforestation and degradation are among the major challenges that hinder the sustainable mangrove forest management in Kenya
Lack of clear understanding and recognition of the importance of mangroves and the impact of urbanization, including construction of ports and roads, is contributing to extensive mangrove losses.
Aquaculture, Agriculture and salt production. They are an ideal location for shrimp farming, are rich in nutrients and areas near the sea are prized for salt production. As a result, hundreds of thousands of hectares of mangrove forests have been cleared
‘’Mangrove forests are among the most powerful nature-based solutions to climate change, but with 67 percent of mangroves lost or degraded to date, and an additional 1.0 percent being lost each year, they are at a risk of being destroyed altogether. Without mangroves, 39 percent more people would be flooded annually and flood damage would increase by more than 16 percent and US $82 billion. They protect shorelines from eroding and shield communities from floods, hurricanes, and storms, a more important service than ever as sea levels continue to rise.
Mangroves also provide nursery areas for marine life and support many threatened and endangered species. Restoring mangroves can make communities more resilient to environmental changes and the economic shocks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.’’ — UNITED NATIONS.
Blue Earth Organization being a youth, women led environment and climate change organization, mangrove planting is at the heart of what we do. Our project is led by the indigenous fishing community who has been hard hit by the pandemic. We have so far planted over 12,000 mangroves, seedlings from which are all sourced from the community. We pride ourselves in being visionaries for a greener, just and equitable future for all. Make the planet more mangroovier here :)
Author — Sumaiya Harunany climate activist @Riseupmovt Kenya and founder of Blue Earth Organization.