By Emma Moneuse
Every year on July 26, an under celebrated holiday arrives– World Mangrove Day. Also known as International Day of the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, the day is observed to raise awareness of the incredible importance mangroves have to the environment. While some could think they are just like any other tree in their backyard or along the coast, mangroves hold a secret list of superpowers.
Mangroves Are the Only Trees That Grow in Saltwater
The magnificent forests support ecosystems which house wildlife, protect coastal communities, and exist on the salty edge of land and sea. Rooted in the water, their branches teem with fish, sharks, and rays–providing shelter for juveniles and an abundance of nutrients. Fish aren’t the only wild animals benefiting from the salty trees, the thick mangrove forests also make perfect landing pads and hunting grounds for migratory waterfowl species.
Mangroves Are Climate Warriors
Mangroves act as carbon sponges, capable of absorbing 4x as much carbon dioxide than land-based forests. It is measured that one hectare of mangrove holds over 500 tons of carbon, an amount of carbon that could take 200 years to produce. Mangroves also filter water, sucking up potential pollutants and maintaining healthy water quality. Their protection extends to everyone who lives near the water. Mangroves fight against storm surges and slow erosion of coastal areas, increasing communities’ resilience to natural disasters.
Sadly, even with their extremely important capabilities, mangrove environments are being deforested at an alarming rate. Areas containing mangroves have lost 35% of the trees in the last 30 years, even reaching 80% in some places. The destruction of mangroves vastly decreases our ability to sequester carbon and can even cause the release of carbon that had been stored in mangroves for hundreds of years, subsequently increasing our emissions.
So, how can you help these powerful trees?
As environmental advocates, we have to use our voice to stand up for the voiceless. To protect mangroves this
World Mangrove Day, look up the laws in your local area regarding mangrove trimming. It’s frequent that rules are broken, putting mangrove health at risk. Advocate for more mangrove protections, as they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Donate to campaigns fighting to protect the trees that protect our coastal communities. #UNLITTER our waterways and help mangroves flourish in healthy land and water free from debris. Most of all, tune in to your surroundings and feel gratitude for the natural superheroes existing all around us, fighting to keep the Earth a happy and healthy place.
If you would like to support mangroves, here are some organizations working to help!
Photos courtesy of Emma Moneuse