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IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON MANGROVES



  May 24, 2024

IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON MANGROVES



Mangroves, critical coastal ecosystems, are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. These unique forests store around 11 billion tonnes of carbon, nearly three times the amount stored by tropical forests of the same size. However, more than half of the world’s mangrove ecosystems are at risk due to climate change, with nearly one in five facing severe threats.

Key Linkages Between Climate Change and Mangroves

1. Sea-Level Rise: One-third of mangrove ecosystems are threatened by rising sea levels. Increased sea levels lead to the submersion of coastal areas, causing erosion and loss of habitat. Predictions indicate that 25% of global mangrove areas could be submerged in the next 50 years, severely affecting regions such as the Northwest Atlantic, North Indian Ocean, Red Sea, South China Sea, and Gulf of Aden.

2. Increased Frequency of Severe Weather: Climate change has led to more frequent and intense cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms. These extreme weather events cause physical damage to mangrove forests, disrupting their structure and function. The increased frequency and severity of these events exacerbate the vulnerability of mangrove ecosystems.

3. Carbon Storage and Sequestration: Mangroves are exceptional in their ability to store and sequester carbon, playing a crucial role in mitigating climate change. The loss of mangroves due to climate change would result in the release of significant amounts of stored carbon, contributing to increased atmospheric carbon levels. By 2050, the loss of mangroves is expected to result in the release of 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon, valued at least USD 13 billion in voluntary carbon markets.

4. Coastal Protection: Mangroves protect coastal communities from disasters by reducing the impact of storm surges, erosion, and flooding. They safeguard 15.4 million people and USD 65 billion worth of property annually. With population growth and rising property values, these figures are projected to increase to 15.5 million people and USD 118 billion by 2050. The degradation of mangroves would leave these communities more vulnerable to coastal disasters.

5. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Mangroves support rich biodiversity, including various fish species, birds, and other wildlife. They provide essential services such as fisheries support and nutrient cycling. Climate change-induced stressors like temperature fluctuations and altered precipitation patterns can disrupt these services, leading to a decline in biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Urgent Need for Conservation

The findings of the IUCN’s first global mangrove assessment highlight the urgent need for coordinated conservation efforts. Maintaining healthy mangrove ecosystems is key to mitigating the impacts of climate change. Effective conservation strategies should focus on:

• Protecting existing mangrove forests: Implementing policies to prevent deforestation and degradation.

• Restoring degraded mangroves: Rehabilitating areas where mangroves have been lost or damaged.

• Enhancing community involvement: Engaging local communities in conservation efforts and raising awareness about the importance of mangroves.

• Improving resilience: Implementing measures to enhance the resilience of mangrove ecosystems to climate change, such as creating buffer zones and supporting natural regeneration.

In conclusion, mangroves are invaluable in the fight against climate change. Protecting and restoring these ecosystems is crucial for safeguarding biodiversity, supporting coastal communities, and ensuring global environmental stability.



SRIRAM’s


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