Restoring mangroves to protect coasts, reduce warming

25 March, 2020

Since the 1950s, Singapore’s mangrove extent has declined by more than 90 percent. However, because of the growing concern of climate change and the instrumental role that mangrove forests can play in protecting human infrastructure on land, the government has announced plans to restore them. In ‘Restoring mangroves to protect coasts, reduce warming’ by The Straits Times, Associate Professor Daniel Friess (NUS Department of Geography) said that mangrove forests tackle climate change in two ways.

Firstly, A/P Friess states that mangrove forests can act as a shield against rising sea levels that will otherwise flood the coastline. This is due to the mangroves’ ability to trap sediments between their roots, which potentially increases the elevation of the surface to keep pace with the rise in sea level. Secondly, mangroves soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; their ability to trap carbon are three to five times greater than other forests. Research into such coastal “blue carbon” – carbon that is stored in coastal ecosystems such as mangroves – will be a key agenda for the upcoming Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions which will be established at NUS by the end of 2020.

A/P Friess also suggests ways to incorporate mangroves into coastal management strategies in Singapore. For example, many of the abandoned aquaculture ponds on offshore Pulau Ubin can be restored and rehabilitated into mangrove habitats. It is also possibly to modify traditional engineered structures like sea walls to better integrate mangroves.

Read the article here.