5 awesome facts about mangroves

Mangroves are woody plants that grow parallel to shorelines or tidal creek systems. They are ecologically important ecosystems that link the land and sea and provide the basis for one of the most important ecosystems on Earth.

The mangrove is a unique tree that has attributes which make its protection a matter of great importance. Mangroves act as filters for nutrients and sediments, reduce erosion and help maintain water quality, provide habitat for many species and protect the shoreline against storms, making them crucial to the livelihoods of many coastal communities.

Unfortunately, mangrove forests have shrunk significantly over the last 40 years, with around 35% of mangrove forest lost globally.

The good news is that people are becoming more aware of just how important the mangrove forests are. In Queensland mangroves are protected in under the Fisheries Act 1994 and in South East Queensland recent action has facilitated mangrove recovery in many areas.

Working to protect mangroves

For more than 20 years, Healthy Land and Water has been working to protect and preserve mangroves in South East Queensland through a variety of strategic planning, mapping and on ground projects including Sunshine Coast FarmFLOW, Mangrove and Saltmarsh Dreaming, supporting MangroveWatch community monitoring, the TS Onslow Shoreline Management Project, the Fish Habitat Restoration Program in Logan-Albert, Maroochy and Northern Moreton Bay and the review of the SEQ NRM Plan.

For over a decade the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation on the Sunshine Coast has been developing skills in mangrove propagation and rehabilitation, working with cane farmers, scientists, fishers and Naval Cadets to prevent streambank erosion whilst at the same time promoting fish habitat in their Sea Country.

In celebration of World Mangrove Day, here are 5 awesome facts about mangroves:

  1. Mangroves are the only species of trees in the world that can tolerate saltwater. They are halophytes, meaning they can tolerate salt and are able to live in areas where oceans and seas meet the land.
  2. Mangroves are hotspots of biodiversity. They form the foundation of highly productive and biologically rich ecosystems, providing a home, nursery and feeding ground for a wide range of species of fish, crustacea, birds, insects and reptiles. Some migratory shorebirds rely on mangroves as roost sites, and the vulnerable Water Mouse depends on mangrove habitats.
  3. Mangroves have great capacity to take carbon out of the atmosphere. A patch of mangroves could absorb as much as 10 times the carbon of a similarly sized patch of terrestrial forest, mitigating the effects of sea level rise. Not only do they help our systems adapt to the impacts of climate change, but they can also help reduce atmospheric CO2 which drives the change.
  4. Mangroves buffer against rising sea levels and storms and help keep the coastline in place, protecting properties and infrastructure. Their dense root system holds soil in place and absorbs wind and wave energy. Once mangroves are gone, the land erodes and tides and currents reshape the coastline, making it difficult or impossible for mangroves to grow back in their former habitats.
  5. Mangroves can live for up to 100 years and therefore record the effects of changing environmental conditions in their structure and composition. By monitoring these factors, information can be obtained relating to the overall health of the marine environment.
Download the poster here! 

For more great information about mangroves:

 

The Mountains to Mangroves program is supported by Healthy Land and Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. 

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