Mangrove forests provide cause for conservation optimism, for now

9 March, 2020
In recent years, mangrove forests have been propelled into the limelight as researchers and academics extol their potential in mitigating climate change. Some critical benefits include protection from coastal erosion, filtering pollution and sediment, and carbon sequestration – helping to store large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Thankfully, mangrove conservation efforts so far have paid off, as NUS News reports positive findings by an international team of 22 researchers led by Associate Professor Daniel Friess and Dr Erik Yando (NUS Department of Geography). They found a significant reduction in the global loss rate of mangrove forests from the late 20th to early 21st centuries – from around 1-3% to about 0.3-0.6% per year.
 
However, A/P Friess cautions that tempered optimism is necessary, as conservation gains are not evenly spread or guaranteed in the future. Indeed, the team gathers that mangroves continue to be threatened by aquaculture, agriculture, and urban development across the world; Southeast Asia remains a hot spot of mangrove deforestation.
 
For long-term and large-scale mangrove conservation and rehabilitation efforts to succeed, the team calls for key ecological thresholds and best practices to be adhered to. This includes planting mangroves in suitable locations and avoiding the use of non-native species which can become invasive. Socio-political hurdles, such as the lack of training, unclear land tenure, and misguided governmental policies also need to be surmounted. Dr Yando states that continued research, policy attention, and renewed efforts will be key to yielding ecologically impactful outcomes from mangrove rehabilitation.
 
Read the article here.
 
The team’s findings, ‘Mangroves give cause for conservation optimism, for now’ (Current Biology, 2020), can be found here.