What’s going on here?

In a landmark assessment on the health of mangrove forests, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems found that half of these ecosystems are at risk of collapse by 2050

What does this mean?

Mangrove forests have been continuously threatened throughout the years by shrimp farms, dam constructions, tourism, and agriculture. The latest study performed by IUCN suggested that sea level rise induced by the climate crisis now constitutes the main threat of these habitats. 

The models used in the study predict that 25% of total mangrove ecosystems around the globe are going to be submerged over the next 50 years. Currently, over 50% of mangrove forests fall  under the categories of Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), or Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red list. 

The majority of mangroves are located on public lands which support not just ecosystems but also high- earning industries like agriculture and tourism. Only about 1% of mangrove forests are under any form of protection and legislation can be complicated – especially when you consider the economic benefits of these industries for developing nations.  

Why should we care?

Mangrove forests cover about 15% of the world’s coastlines and they play a crucial role in coastal protection, carbon storage, and biodiversity support.  

As of today, they store almost 11 billion tons of carbon (17% of the world’s total carbon) and protect 15.4 million people and $ 65 billion worth of property every year. The biodiversity in mangrove ecosystems supports 14% of current fishing efforts. If conservation measures are not taken, the environmental and economical consequences of their loss would be immense. 

This study contributes in identifying the main threats of mangrove degradation and aims to help guide future assessments to mitigate the risk of their collapse. It also plays an important role in achieving worldwide goals such as the Mangrove Breakthrough, which seeks to safeguard the future of 150,000 square kilometres of mangrove ecosystems. 

Be curious!

Featured image by Maxwell Ridgeway, via Unsplash