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World - Mangroves: A Unique Ally in the Climate Emergency

Several countries recognized the value of mangroves-based mitigation actions in their REDD+ strategies, while at least 45 countries specifically mentioned mangroves in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Nearly 20 years have passed since the first time I stepped into a mangrove forest, yet the memory is still among my fondest memories. I was already captivated by mangrove ecology through my studies; but it was only when my boots first disappeared under the mud that I was truly hooked. I arrived at Ko Phra Thong in Thailand to take part in a survey of the mangroves on the island and I was so keen to get started that I didn’t even stop to change from shorts to long trousers, or to slap on some mosquito repellent. Well, they had a feast on my legs, leaving some very physical, itchy reminders of the experience, to add to the romantic charm of the soft green dappled light and salty breeze.

Mangrove forests are unique ecosystems, straddling the boundary between ocean and land. Their significant roles in securing a habitat for a wide range of unique species of fish, insects, mollusks and plants, and in providing direct and indirect livelihood benefits for coastal communities are all well studied. The COVID-19 outbreak and the related impacts on countries and communities put increasing visibility and recognition of the importance of the availability and sustainability of such food security and livelihoods benefits.

More recently, attention has turned to the importance of mangroves as sinks of greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – and hence their critical role in mitigating climate change. Moreover, intact and healthy mangroves act as a natural buffer, contributing to the reduction of impact forces and depth and velocity of natural hazards, thus contributing to coastal communities’ ability to adapt as the frequency and severity of such events increases as a result of climate change.

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