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by Nicolas Quintairos June 02, 2020 3 min read

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you care about the environment, even if it’s just a little bit. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have clicked on this page. So, you’re probably already aware that human activities are slowly, but surely, destroying our planet by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and negatively changing the climate. But, did you also know that our coastal ecosystems provide a natural way of minimizing the harsh effect of these greenhouse gases? Better yet, did you know that mangrove forests play one of the biggest roles?

 

Go ‘groves go!

 

So, why are mangroves important? Get this: Mangrove ecosystems are natural long-term carbon sinks that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass for hundreds to thousands of years. Yeah… thousands. Mangrove forests are one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to counteract the gases that are being released into the atmosphere because of their enormous capacity for removing and storing carbon dioxide in their soil. This behavior is referred to as carbon sequestration: a process where CO2 is sucked out of the atmosphere and stored somewhere else. If we are going to meet the UN goals for sustainable development, the global restoration of mangrove forests is going to play a key role. 

 

Where does the carbon go?

 

Trees convert the carbon dioxide into plant matter, storing the carbon for the duration of its life. Most terrestrial forests keep the carbon in branches, leaves, and trunks, but mangroves store it in the soil on the ocean floor where they grow. Their organic-rich soil and complex root systems allow for mangroves to be exceptional at storing large amounts of carbon long-term. The sediments on which mangroves are anchored are low in oxygen, which results in a slower decaying process. This slower process results in larger amounts of carbon collecting in the soil. 

Studies have shown that mangroves sequester four times more carbon than tropical rainforests, and they are among the most carbon-rich terrestrial ecosystems. So why are we tearing them down? Between 2000-2015, approximately 122 million tons of carbon was released into the atmosphere because of mangrove deforestation. These ecosystems mitigate carbon emissions produced from human activities, but these activities are also killing these important coastal trees.

carbon sequestration

Photography Credit: Ecosystem Marketplace by Steve Zwick

 

Preserving mangrove forests is crucial to the environment for various reasons. When these ecosystems are destroyed, the carbon stored in their soil gets released back into the atmosphere and causes an increase in global climate change. The process that stores this carbon also allows the mangroves to trap and build sediment that increases with sea-level rise. These ecosystems are also crucial for sustaining biodiversity, protecting marine life, and serving as a barrier against natural disasters; they are the most productive ecosystem on Earth performing an array of important functions.

 

So…what do we do?

We research. We educate. We plant. Protecting and restoring coastal habitats is a monumental way to combat and reduce climate change. Mangrove ecosystems are depleting at an alarming rate, and we need proper legislation to protect these crucial ecosystems. Carbon offsets focusing on the restoration of mangrove forests are more cost-effective than those focusing on terrestrial forests. We need to research and educate the public on climate change mitigation and the important role that mangroves play, so these ecosystems are not undervalued and overlooked.

But the easiest thing you can do? Well, it’s simple: Buy a hat.

Twenty5Degrees is proud to partner of The Eden Reforestation Projects, where each mangrove planted removes over 680 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere over the course of the tree’s life. When one of our large brim beach hats or trucker hats are sold, mangroves are planted. We are a company that proudly gives back and is working to reduce the effects of climate change one sustainable hat at a time.

We hope now, that you understand why mangroves are important. When you put on your Twenty5Degree’s hat, you can feel confident that you are playing your part in protecting our mangrove ecosystems and our only Planet Earth. 

Proudly rock your ecofriendly sun hat while mangrove forests clean up our atmospheric mess!

By: Meghan Morrison

 

 


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