The importance of mangroves to people: a call to action

Duke, Norman, Nagelkerken, Ivan, Agardy, Tundi, Wells, Sue, and Van Lavieren, Hanneke (2014) The importance of mangroves to people: a call to action. Report. United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Cambridge, UK.

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Abstract

[Extract] Mangroves are a type of tropical forest, uniquely positioned at the dynamic interface of land and sea. They are found along coasts and estuaries throughout the tropics and subtropics and are capable of thriving in salt water; prospering in conditions to which only a few species have adapted. Mangroves form the foundation of a highly productive and biologically rich ecosystem which provides a home and feeding ground for a wide range of species, many of which are endangered. Although mangroves make up less than one percent of all tropical forests worldwide, they are highly valuable ecosystems, providing an array of essential goods and services which contribute significantly to the livelihoods, well-being and security of coastal communities. The complex network of mangrove roots can help reduce wave energy, limiting erosion and shielding coastal communities from the destructive forces of tropical storms. Mangrove ecosystems are often an essential source of seafood for both subsistence consumption and the local and national seafood trade, in addition to providing other materials such as firewood and timber, which support the livelihoods of thousands of coastal communities. Beyond their direct benefits, mangroves also play an important role in global climate regulation. On average, they store around 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare in their biomass and underlying soil, making them some of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. Despite its value, the mangrove ecosystem is one of the most threatened on the planet. Mangroves are being destroyed at rates 3-5 times greater than average rates of forest loss and over a quarter of the original mangrove cover has already disappeared; driven by land conversion for aquaculture and agriculture, coastal development, pollution and overexploitation of mangrove resources. As mangroves become smaller and more fragmented, important ecosystem goods and services will be diminished or lost. The consequences of further mangrove degradation will be particularly severe for the well-being of coastal communities in developing countries, especially where people rely heavily on mangrove goods and services for their daily subsistence and livelihoods. However, the future of mangroves does not have to be bleak. Increasing recognition of the importance of mangrove ecosystems for both biodiversity and human well-being is driving efforts around the world to conserve, better manage and restore these ecosystems. Many of these have been successful at a local scale, often supported by national policies that recognise the significant long-term benefits of mangroves over short-term financial gains. Mangroves need to be understood for the valuable socio-economic and ecological resource they are, and conserved and managed sustainably. This will take a commitment by governments to make policy decisions and enforce existing protection measures to curb the widespread losses from human activities. This global synthesis document serves as a call to action to decision makers and highlights the unique range of values of mangroves to people around the world. It aims to provide a science-based synthesis of the different types of goods and services provided by mangroves and the associated risks in losing these services in the face of ongoing global habitat loss and degradation. The document provides management and policy options at the local, regional and global level with the aim of preventing further losses through effective conservation measures, sustainable management and successful restoration of previously damaged mangrove areas. Our hope is that this call to action will generate renewed interest in mangroves for policy-makers, helping to safeguard a future for these essential yet undervalued ecosystems.

Item ID: 35529
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-92-807-3397-6
Keywords: mangrove; habitat; benefits; threats; conservation: biodiversity
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Funders: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2016 04:42
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961201 Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 10%
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