International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is celebrated on July 26 each year. Since 1980, we have lost half of the mangrove forests. Some countries have lost more than 80% of their mangrove population.
Mangroves grow in tropical and subtropical coastal areas. They can withstand high salinity, tidal flooding, and low oxygen levels. This is the reason that only 110 species have been categorized as mangroves that can grow in these saline swamps.
These trees are propped on cagy tangled roots that help withstand tidal waves and provide a rich habitat for many organisms such as fishes and crustaceans.
Mangrove ecosystem conservation is important as it prevents coastline erosion, mitigates the effects of tides and tsunamis, and reduces atmospheric carbon.
History of International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, celebrated on July 26, was adopted by UNESCO in the General Conference of 2015 to raise awareness about the crucial mangrove ecosystem. This day aims to promote the conservation and sustainable growth of mangrove forests.
Mangrove forests are of significant ecological importance. The tangled roots of the mangrove forest act as a nursery for many organisms, protecting them from predators, strong heat, and forceful tides. Apart from supporting rich biodiversity, coastal forests remove five times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than terrestrial forests.
Over the last 40 years, the area covered by mangrove forests has almost halved. The major risk to mangrove forests is shrimp farming. A large part of the forest is uprooted to create a closed pond which is used for breeding shrimps. It involves excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals to prevent diseases and improve yield. Within years, the ecological balance of the forests is irreparably damaged.
The wood from these forests can be well coveted and sold for large sums. It is also used for charcoal production. This leads to severe deforestation. Often rivers are diverted to make way for roads, and buildings, or to supply water to farming fields. Since most mangrove forests are situated on estuaries, this is also a leading cause of disruption of mangrove habitat.
International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem timeline
The first fossil of the Mangrove tree dates back to 75 million years ago.
The catastrophic flood that shakes many nations cannot touch a small village in India because of the protection endowed by its coastal forest.
Since 1980, more than one-fifth of the mangrove forest has been lost owing to anthropogenic environmental changes.
This day was adopted by UNESCO to raise awareness and protect mangrove forests.
International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem FAQs
What is the current status of mangroves in the Philippines?
From 1918 to 1994, the mangrove area dwindled from 500,000 hectares to 124,000 hectares. Many restoration processes have helped revive some of the areas. Currently, the spread of mangroves stands at 250,000 hectares.
Do mangroves produce oxygen?
Yes, mangroves produce oxygen. The ability to produce oxygen may vary with the specie of the mangrove tree.
Can you eat mangrove fruits?
Most mangrove fruits are bitter to taste. Mangrove apples are common edible fruit found in the mangrove forests.
How to Observe International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
Plant mangrove trees
If you live close to a coastal area, you can choose to plant mangrove trees in your neighborhood seashore. Learn more about the suitable plant species that are adaptable to your local climate and spend your day helping nature.
Teach others about mangrove conservation
Raise awareness about mangrove conservation in your community. Motivate people to donate or volunteer for replantation and conservation activities.
Be a mangrove
Mangrove reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide. It can be key to preventing climate change. There are ways we can reduce pollution. It can be as simple as walking or biking to nearby places rather than firing up your car engine.
5 Facts About Mangrove Forests
Mangroves protected a village
A village in Tamil Nadu, India had planted 80,244 plants around their village, along the coastal line and when the 2004 tsunami hit, the neighboring areas were flooded but the village practically remained unscathed.
The largest mangrove forest, Sundarban
Sundarban in West Bengal, India is the largest mangrove forest in the world, and parts of the forest were declared by UNESCO a World Heritage site.
These coastal forests are major blue carbon systems (converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into oceanic sediments) hence acting as a key environmental regulator.
Mangrove trees survive under strenuous conditions that most timber cannot and deal with the salty seawater by releasing the salt from the leaves and barks.
Mangroves help fight coral bleaching as they provide shelter for coral species.
Why International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is Important
Do we need a reason to protect trees?
Oxygen, food, clothes. The list is long. We cannot continue our existence without trees. Conservation of mangrove trees is even more crucial because they harbor a plethora of fauna and can be a key to reducing global warming.
Source of income and food
Mangrove honey and silk can provide small-scale income to the neighboring communities without damaging the mangrove habitat. Fishes, crabs, and shrimps when harvested sustainably are a source of nourishment.
Home for animals
Mangroves offer a comfortable habitat to young organisms. Fishes (even sharks) and crustaceans find the stilts of mangrove forests quite homely.
International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem dates