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by Apps On Demand Collaborator January 26, 2020 14 min read

What did you know about Mangrove forests

Did you know the importance of mangrove forests to society at large? 

Did you want to add to your knowledge of forestry? 

If your answer to the above question is yes, you are reading the right piece to increase your knowledge of this discourse topic. 

Let me take you through this exciting topic to widen your horizon about mangrove forests. Take a seat and enjoy your reading.

Do not miss number 25, as it entails vital information you can not afford to miss.

Mangrove forests are an essential part of tropical coastal ecosystems. Still, you may be asking yourself, what even is a mangrove? Simply put, they are a tree or shrub that lives in saltwater environments along the coast.

 Also, mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that is found in the coastal intertidal zones. There are about 85 different species of mangrove trees and shrubs globally. They usually grow in areas where there is low-oxygen soil and where slow-moving water allows fine sediments to accumulate.

Mangroves forests could only be found growing at a tropical and subtropical attitude near the equator because they can't withstand freezing temperatures. Many of the mangroves forests can be known through their dense tangle of prop roots that make the tree stand stilt above waters.

These tangle roots that mangrove forests possess help deal with the daily rise and fall of tides, resulting in each mangrove forests getting flooded twice per day. These mangroves forests tree and shrubs roots are essential in slowing tidal waters, which causes sediments to settle out of the water and help build up the muddy bottom.

Also, Mangrove forests bring stability to the coastline and reduce erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.

When talking about mangrove forests, you should understand that we are talking about a set of trees and shrubs that are very tall in heights. They grow between the highest tidal level, which happened to be the same level or higher than the sea. 

Furthermore, The trees usually have seeds that equally have a firm root inherited from the parent tree. Its fruit has a ruddy brown shell and a delicate white pulp, which is sweet and eatable. Its bark is astringent and is used for tanning leather. The black and white mangrove has much the same habit.

The term mangrove may be used in a broader sense by including the entire combinations of plants and the habitat from where they grow. In this regard, mangrove can be classified into 6 community forest types: (1) riverine forest, (2) fringing forest, (3) overwash forest, (4) shrub or dwarf forest, (5) basin forest, and (6) hammock forest. All these six habitats are where you could find mangrove forests.

Mangroves forests are significant to the coastal ecosystems that they inhabit. These mangroves forests serve as shields between marine and terrestrial communities and help protect shorelines from damages caused by winds, waves, and floods.

The most common mangrove trees and shrubs grow to about 9 meters (30 feet) tall. Mangroves forests leaves are about q5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 inches) long, opposite, oval or elliptic, and smooth-edged. They are thick, have leathery surfaces, and are borne on short stems.

 The flowers are pale yellow. While the fruit is still attached to the parent branch, the long embryonic root emerges from the seed and proliferates downward. When this propagule falls, the young root is in the correct position to be driven into the mud; thus, the plant is rooted, the shoot makes its appearance. The young root may grow to such a length that it becomes fixed in the mud before the fruit separates from the parent tree.

Also, Mangroves improves water quality by filtering the water from pollution and keeping at bay sediments from the land, and reducing coastal erosion.

You must note that these mangroves forests also serve as a natural habitat for numerous organisms. Many coastal and offshore fishes rely on mangroves forests as their spawning, breeding, and hatching ground. 

 But they are so much more than that.

We started as a fisherman here at twenty5degrees. One might ask, "why do many fishermen support efforts to protect and restore mangrove forests?" That's because fishermen are the ones who see the devastation and damages that our actions are causing to our oceans first hand. There are also a few sets of people who understand the importance of mangroves forests to an ecosystem. We don't expect you to be a mangrove-pro. That's what we're here for. You've already taken the first step in the right direction: You clicked on this blog! Now sit back and relax while telling you 25 things you may not know about these unique terrestrial ecosystems.

  1. One acre of mangrove forest alone can sequester 1,450 pounds of carbon per year. 

Yeah, you read that correctly. These terrestrial ecosystems absorb and store carbon, removing it from the atmosphere and keeping it within the plant. 

What is carbon dioxide? Scientists define carbon dioxide as a colorless gas having a faint sharp odor and a sour taste. This is harmful to man but useful for plants in the photosynthesis of carbohydrates. Carbon dioxide could be a liquid or a solid. Carbon dioxide is produced when you decide to burn your fossil fuel, smoke from factories, and different areas specializing in burning chemicals.

Hence, mangrove forests' importance is that they turn all this carbon dioxide into useful products. The mangroves forests use the carbon dioxide for their leaves, roots, and branches, and once they die, they fall to the seafloor and store the carbon for thousands of years. Is this not amazing? This buried carbon is referred to as "blue carbon" because it is stored underwater. Researchers state that worldwide, mangroves can sequester more than 28 million tons of carbon EVERY YEAR. Now that's a ton of carbon sequestration. 

Studies show that pound for pound, mangrove forests can sequester four times carbon more than rainforest can. Those of these carbons are stored in the soil beneath the mangroves forests trees. 

  1. Mangrove Forests May be OurKey in TheFightAgainstClimateChange, but they are in Danger of Extinction. 

Just like us Floridians, mangroves forests trees enjoy basking in the sun on tropical coastlines. Unfortunately, there is high competition for that kind of real estate. Mangroves forests are dozed away for urban development and sandy beaches. They are being cleared at a faster rate than tropical rainforests. In the Americas, over one-third of mangroves have already disappeared. This is a big concern as we lack an understanding of how to monitor the resources around us.

Mangrove forests can help us fight climate change; you read it right. It can help us battle the effect of climate change by enabling us to reduce global warming.

But many mangrove forests are disappearing. They are absolutely endangered throughout the world through development, through industrial agriculture, through other sorts of human activities like illegal logging, which aren't helping.

Studies showed that about a third of the world's mangroves have been destroyed over the past 50 years. Hence, advocates say there is a lot more to be done to protect and restore mangroves forests worldwide.

  1. Our HardworkingMangrovesContribute to TheEconomy. 

Researchers estimate that collectively, the world's mangroves provide billions of dollars worth of services to humans. This is achieved through fisheries, providing storm protection, food, improved water quality, protecting the climate, etc. The mangrove forests provide food, medicines, wood, and other resources as well as sustainable tourism. Timber- Coastal communities use mangroves for wood, fuel, and charcoal.

Also, Plant Products- Many communities use medicinal plants found in mangrove forests swamps. Still, many of these plants are unknown to modern scientists. Mangroves provide an environment for activities such as kayaking and bird-watching, which stimulates tourism. However, tourism must be accomplished sustainably, limiting visitors' numbers and ensuring the ecosystem's safety.

 "Kayaking through a snake of mangroves in Hopkins." Image retrieved from unsplash.com courtesy of Aristides Carrera.

All these are the direct value of the economic importance of mangroves. At the same time, indirect contributions refer to services or uses which do not use up the resource. They include environmental services provided by biological communities not consumed through use (non-consumptive use-value). The amount of money people are willing to contribute to ensuring a natural resource (existence value).

  1. There are a lot of different mangrove species… Like, a lot, a lot. 

Around the world, more than 50 different species of mangroves can be found. These species are very different, and most aren't even closely related to one another. Mangrove species are distinguished by physical and ecological traits rather than through the plant genus. The three species we most commonly see in Florida are the red mangrove, the black mangrove, and the white mangrove. There are still many more species found in every part of the world; you can do more research about this. 

  1. Just like us, Floridians, mangroves do NOT like the cold. 

In the 1980s, a series of freezes caused the most recent significant die-off of Floridian mangroves and citrus crops, which also fare poorly in cold weather. Since then, previous research showed, mangroves have flourished and expanded further from the tropics. Mangrove forests are located in the world's tropical and subtropical regions, mostly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S (hence twenty5degrees!). Where mangroves are found is entirely dependent on temperature. That's why most of the mangroves in the United States are in Florida.

  1. Out of the 50+ species, only four are found in the United States.

Even though there are more than 50 species of mangroves worldwide, only four of those species are found in the United States: red, black, white, and buttonwood. The most well-known mangrove is the red mangrove due to their different red, tangled roots. The black mangrove is more tree-like, and if you look closely at their leaves, you may see little flakes of salt. Next up, the white mangrove is the smallest of the four species. Unlike the red and black mangroves, white mangroves have no visible aerial roots. However, when they are found growing in oxygen-deprived sediment, the mangroves develop short "peg roots." Lastly, the buttonwood. This mangrove species gets its name from its flower head's button-like look and can be found more inland than its fellow mangrove species.

  1. Indonesia is home to the most mangrove forests in the world. 

More than a quarter of the world's mangroves are found in Indonesia, with approximately 3 million hectares of mangrove forest growing along its coastline. Asia is home to 75% of all mangrove ecosystems in the world. This is a place that you can get and see as many mangroves forests as you want. 

  1. Mangrove forests serve as a habitat for marine life. 

Because of their dense root systems, mangroves provide an ideal hiding place for small animals. An abundance of species relies on mangrove habitats for protection, whether they live directly on the roots or within the roots as a hideout. Many swimming species will use the mangroves as nursery habitat, spending the early stages of life within the roots' safety before venturing off into the ocean later on. These species include many fish, sea turtles, and even juvenile sharks. As the mangroves provide humans with economic value, it also provides shelter for many species and organisms. 

  1. Mangrove forests support terrestrial life too!

Mangrove forests are home to more than just marine life; they also make an excellent land species habitat. Many birds nest in the trees' branches and canopy, and small insects feed and nest in the twigs. Some types of insects have even evolved to look like mangrove twigs and leaves! The shallow waters and exposed mudflats within the mangrove system are ideal for birds and crocodiles.

  1. Mangrove forests improve water quality

Mangrove forests are largely not known for their incredible ability to enhance the water quality in their ecosystems. The complicated network of roots allows for mangroves forest trees to filter and trap sediments and pollutants. The roots can hold onto these elements and absorb nutrients from runoff, reducing erosion while improving the surrounding water quality. Also, Mangroves enhances water quality by filtering the water from pollution and keeping at bay sediments from the land and reducing coastal erosion.

  1. Biodiversity hotspot alert!

Mangrove ecosystems are rich in biodiversity. As previously mentioned, mangroves can absorb nutrients from runoff, filtering the surrounding water, forming a nutrient-rich habitat. By providing nesting and breeding for fish, birds, sea turtles, and other animals, mangroves can host various species. This is especially important as human activity continues to cause a decline in biodiversity. 

  1. They are the only tree species in the world that can live in the ocean. 

So, what is a mangrove? Mangroves are defined by their ability to tolerate higher salinities than other plants. Some trees can handle some degrees of salinity, but mangroves are the only tree species in the world that can survive in the harsh conditions in which they do. Mangroves can survive being submerged in saltwater, unlike any other tree species. Why is that…? Keep reading!

  1. Mangroves have adapted to survive in their environment. 

Mangroves have evolved over time specifically to endure these harsh conditions that are fatal to other species. Mangroves can grow in soils with twice the salinity of ocean water. Root adaptations have made it possible for these trees to live in oxygen-poor sediments along with the shoreline and salt excretion adaptations enable mangroves to survive in, well, salt. Mangroves forests have really adapted to its environment really well and still carry out its harsh conditions. 

  1. Mangrove Forests protect the shoreline

Their complex root systems trap river and land sediment, which slows down erosion and protects the coastline. The aerial root system slows down the water flow, which settles the sediment and causes it to accrete instead of eroding. The complex root system of the mangroves. Image retrieved from unsplash.com courtesy of Hayden Dunsel.

  1. They're also a natural coastal defense – what can't they do?! 

Mangrove forests not only protect the shoreline from erosion, but they also protect the coast against natural disasters such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Every 330 feet of mangrove forest can reduce wave height by up to 66% by acting as an obstacle that slows down the water flow and wave energy as the water flows through their tangled roots. It could also help prevent floods in and around the environment due to its root's effectiveness. 

  1. Your bbq shrimp may be a jumbo problem. 

The spread of shrimp farming around the world has detrimental effects on mangrove ecosystems. The mangrove forest gets cleared to make way for the farmed shrimp production. This has endangered the lives of mangroves all over the world. I asked myself why this is so, why can't we all just stop destroying all these mangroves, and I could not come up with an answer. Do you have an answer to that? 

Or can it be because of the benefits of it that made them turn deaf ears to what scientists worldwide are saying?

  1. Mangroves give birth to live children, like humans. 

I know you will be surprised to see this fact, right? Mangrove mamas "seeds" are alive! They are already seedlings when they drop from the tree. Vivipary reproduction is one of the many adaptations that have increased the mangroves' chance for survival. After mangrove flowers are pollinated, a produced seed germinates into seedlings right away. These seedlings are called propagules, and they fall off the tree. They are swept away by the ocean current, allowing them to grow in a new area away from their mama to avoid competition. This made the seed spread and germinate on new soil and start a new life and gain new ground, helping its growth. 

  1. Feeling hungry? Mangrove Forests support quite the diverse food web

Mangrove Forests provide an important feeding ground for an abundance of different species. Some organisms eat their leaves directly while other organisms, such as decomposers, wait for the leaves' decaying debris when they fall to the ground. The smaller fish in the ecosystem feed on the crabs and shrimp, which become food for the wading birds and larger species who take shelter in the roots.

  1. Mangrove Forests are a renewable and sustainable resource. 

In many parts of the world, mangrove forests are harvested for water-resistant wood. Tannins can be extracted from the bark and be made into fine leathers. The leaves can be used in teas, herbs, and medicine.

Commercial and recreational fisheries are renewable economic resources necessary to indigenous populations and coastal areas for livelihood. A recent study published in 

the journal Nature confirmed that mangrove habitat provides critical nursery grounds for 

juvenile coral reef fish.

  1. They're a bee's best friend! 

It is incredible to know that the benefits of mangroves forests are immense. When you observe the mangrove forests of Florida, you'll find hives near the mangroves as beekeepers use their nectar in honey production. Black and white mangroves produce a flower every summer that bees use to make honey. How sweet is that!

  1. Coral reefs love them too

Mangrove Forests play a crucial role in the survival of coral reefs, declining at a high rate due to warming waters. As seen on National Geographic, the rise in temperature causes fatal coral bleaching. Still, in areas where mangroves are present, coral is found to survive better under the protection of the roots and higher water quality. The forests also protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered in sediment by filtering out sediments.

Coral reefs and mangrove ecosystems function in a symbiotic relationship, which enhances tropical and subtropical coastal environments. Together, the coral reef and mangrove forests ecosystems form a barrier that protects shorelines from the destructive forces of wind, waves, flood, and driven debris. This is one of the best symbiotic relationships you will see. 

  1. Mangrove Ecosystems are home to two-thirds of the fish we eat. 

This seems very impressive; having two-thirds of the fish in the world in the mangrove forests is one reason we should all protect the extinction of this.

Around two out of every three marine fish, you have ever eaten spend some portion of their life in the mangroves. Is it not incredible to see all these about mangrove forests? 

They protect us, they battle climate change, and they feed us?! #Team Mangroves.

  1. Amazon mangroves store 2x more carbon per hectare than Amazon rainforests.

When mangrove forests are cut down and cleared, more greenhouse gases are created than when the rainforests are cleared. This happened due to the amount of carbon dioxide that has been sequestered by the mangrove forests. Many conservation efforts are centered around the rainforests, but these efforts should also focus on mangroves! I know that henceforth, more attention will be paid to this. 

  1. It is difficult to replant these trees. 

Mangrove Forests are part of the shoreline and prevent erosion. According to conservation.org, when they are damaged or removed, it's not as simple as just replanting the trees. The land starts to erode, and the incoming tide, no longer managed by the mangrove roots, reshapes the shore. This is more reasons why its extinction should and must be prevented from happening.

  1. They are protected by law. 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) enacted the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act in 1996. This Act bans the use of deadly or harmful chemicals to the trees, making it impossible to move or interrupt Florida mangroves without a legal permit.

 Haven learned the qualities possessed by mangrove forests. I guess you have seen why it must be protected so that you and I could benefit more from the plants than bringing them to ruin because of urbanization.

You must follow the laid-down rules and regulations done by the (FDEP) to protect mangrove forests' extreme abuse. Mangrove forests are so beneficial to human beings and their environment; you can see this by going through all you can gain from the plant. If you can gain from the plant, you should not be thinking about destroying it; instead, protect it and make it safe as best as possible. You get it, right? 

We hope you understand now why many fishermen support efforts to protect and restore mangrove forests. We hope you enjoyed learning how unique and important the salty plants are!  

FAQs About Mangrove Forests

What is the most important features of mangrove forest?
Mangrove forests are the most іmроrtаnt vеgеtаtіоn fоund in the areas of tіdе influenced coats hаvіng accumulated mud and ѕіlt. ii. Dеnѕе mangrove is the соmmоn vаrіеtіеѕ with rооtѕ of the рlаntѕ ѕubmеrgеd undеr water, Ganga, Mаhаnаdі.

What would happen if there were no mangroves?
The trees trap sediment and роllutаntѕ that wоuld оthеrwіѕе flоw оut to sea. Sеаgrаѕѕ bеdѕ provide a further bаrrіеr to ѕіlt and mud that соuld ѕmоthеr the reefs. In return, the rееfѕ рrоtесt the seagrass bеdѕ and mаngrоvеѕ from ѕtrоng ocean wаvеѕ. Wіthоut mаngrоvеѕ, thіѕ іnсrеdіblу рrоduсtіvе есоѕуѕtеm wоuld collapse.

What is unique about mangroves?
Mangroves are unіԛuе bесаuѕе they are a gift of the tіdеѕ аlоng lоw-lуіng tropical and оссаѕіоnаllу ѕubtrорісаl соаѕtаl areas, аlоng the mаrgіnѕ of estuaries, dеltаѕ, соаѕtаl lаgооnѕ, and brасkіѕh tidal wаtеrѕ. In mаngrоvеѕ as in оthеr mаrgіnаl ecosystems, biodiversity is low

What do mangroves need to survive?
The trееѕ, ѕhrubѕ, раlmѕ, fеrnѕ, climbers, grаѕѕеѕ and ерірhуtеѕ which lіvе in the mangrove forest must all be able to соре with ѕаlt. Whіlе thеѕе рlаntѕ dоn't have to have salt to ѕurvіvе, ѕtudіеѕ have ѕhоwn that mаngrоvеѕ do grow best in water that is 50% frеѕhwаtеr and 50% seawater.

Why are mangroves so important?
Mangroves are important to реорlе bесаuѕе thеу help ѕtаbіlіzе Flоrіdа'ѕ соаѕtlіnе ecosystem and рrеvеnt еrоѕіоn. Mаngrоvеѕ аlѕо provide natural infrastructure and рrоtесtіоn to nearby рорulаtеd аrеаѕ bу preventing еrоѕіоn and аbѕоrbіng ѕtоrm surge іmрасtѕ during еxtrеmе weather events ѕuсh as hurrісаnеѕ.

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