Tricolored heron in mangroves Mexico. Photo by Mark Spalding.
Use and ecological niche
• Mangroves contribute to livelihoods locally and globally by providing forest resources such as timber, firewood and thatching materials as well as non-timber products.
• They are also recognized as an important greenbelt and carbon sink that protects coastal areas from natural disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones and erosion resulting from sea-level rise especially in small island countries.
• There is good evidence that mangroves even reduced the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in a number of locations.
• There is also considerable storage of organic carbon in mangrove soils, meaning they may have an important role to play in the process of mitigating climate change. Preliminary estimates indicate that the total above-ground biomass for the world’s mangrove forests may be over 3700Tg of carbon, and that carbon sequestration directly into mangrove sediments is likely to be in the range of 14-17Tg of carbon per year.
• Mangroves are also among the most important intertidal habitats for marine and coastal fisheries. Mangrove related species have been estimated to support 30 per cent of fish catch and almost 100 per cent of shrimp catch in South-East Asian countries, while mangroves and associated habitats in Queensland, Australia support 75 per cent of commercial fisheries species