'The Precious Coastal Green Belt': Celebrating the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems

Mangroves are a rare and prominent ecosystem found along the coastlines in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, representing 1% of global tropical forests and less than 0.4% of the total forest cover. Therefore, UNESCO declared an International Day for the conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems and it is celebrated every year on 26th July since 2016 as an opportunity, "to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses". World Mangroves Day is a reminder to the world to celebrate the unique and vital role of the mangrove ecosystems and preserve it for the future generations.

World mangrove distribution

World Mangrove Distribution | Map Resource: National Geographic Magazine

Mangroves are the only plant species that can grow better in saline conditions and can withstand effect of natural disasters such as storm surges, tsunamis, and rising sea levels whilst providing protection to the coastlines. Mangrove ecosystems protect coral reefs, seagrass beds, and shipping lanes from siltation and erosion. The rich biodiversity of mangrove species provides habitats, breeding grounds, nursery grounds, and nutrients for a variety of fish, shellfish, migratory birds, insects, and for threatened species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Mangroves provide an extraordinary ecosystem service to the world, contributing to the food security, wellbeing protection of coastal communities, as well as vital socio-economic and environmental functions. Mangrove vegetation and wildlife in it act as a natural buffer to distinguish human activity from the coastal zone, creating a correlation between humans and ecosystem services. But with the current situation of ecosystem destruction, the balance between nature and human behavior has been destroyed and it is putting enormous pressure on ecosystem services.

Importance of Mangrove belts along the coastline

Importance of Mangrove Ecosystems | Photo By: unfccc.int

Globally, mangroves are vulnerable to extinction due to the increasing population pressure and the changes in the use of environmental and natural resources for urban settlements, agriculture, and industries due to land encroachment in the coastline. The latest report by Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA) estimated that 67% of mangroves have been lost or degraded, and an additional 1% is lost each year. However, the mangrove ecosystem is an important tool to fight against climate change with its ability to absorb five times more carbon from the atmosphere than the forests on land.

Mangroves are among the most valuable ecosystems on the earth

Mangrove forests provide an excellent ecosystem service | Photo By: pewtrusts.org

It is important to protect, preserve and conserve mangrove ecosystems as it is the most productive nature-based solution to climate adaptation and mitigation, food security, and human well-being. Sustainable aquaculture practices and regional planning to avoid the invasion of marine and coastal ecosystems can reduce the impact of mangrove destruction and will directly affect the livelihood of local communities. The Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA) has been formed by several organizations to promote larger-scale mangrove conservation, restoration, and sustainable use, and this brings together NGOs, governments, industries, and local communities worldwide to increase mangrove cover by 20% by 2030. Therefore, it is essential to bring everyone into one platform to ensure livability on earth by involving and rebuilding sustainable management of lost biodiversity and ecosystem services.

References –

https://www.iucn.org/news/marine-and-polar/201907/celebrating-mangroves-super-ecosystem-tropics

https://www.careourearth.com/world-mangrove-day/